Director Arlene Odeja unpacks food last year after the Union Grove Area Food Bank moved to its current location. The food bank continues to grow and is looking for a larger facility.

By Dave Fidlin


An organization working to meet the needs of the greater Union Grove community again needs to be on the move.

A year ago, the Union Grove Area Food Bank moved to its current place in the southeast corner of the former Piggly Wiggly building on Vine Street.

While the low rent price has kept the operation sustainable, the facilities are not adequate in the long-term.

So, for the second time in two years, Director Arlene Odeja said the food bank is seeking out a new home – this time, hopefully one that the organization can settle into for the long haul.

Odeja notes that the Piggly Wiggly space does not provide a temperature-controlled environment – a challenge when storing food – and there are no restroom facilities or running water.

“Really, we need at least 800 square feet of space and, ideally, 1,100 square feet,” Odeja said.

“We want to stay within the village of Union Grove. It’s very important because 80 percent of our recipients live in Union Grove, and most of the volunteers are here as well.”

Up until last year, the food bank had been operating out of the former Union Grove municipal building. But Odeja and other organizers made the decision to relocate with the prospect of redeveloping the deteriorating building.

Odeja said the food bank is currently eyeing space near the Post Office, though there are hurdles in that proposal.

“The problem is we don’t have the funds to purchase the property,” Odeja said. “We would need at least $10,000 to put a down payment on the site.”

The organization plans to embark upon a mass mail blitz after the holidays, requesting donations for the new facility.

In the meantime, Odeja and her volunteers are focusing on the immediate needs with Thanksgiving now done and Christmas on the horizon.

This year, personal care items – including shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant – are in especially high demand. Dry goods and monetary donations toward food supplies also are appreciated.

The food bank does not have a specific drop-off site, but a number of churches within the community – including St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1610 Main St., and St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 3320 S. Colony Ave. – do accept donations.

Odeja said arrangements also can be made to pick up donations by calling her at (262) 853-4144.

This season, the food bank also is resuming its giving tree initiative at Mulberry’s Pancake Café, 1036 Main St. Proceeds will benefit children in need.

And, both now and after the holidays, monetary donations for the Union Grove Area Food Bank’s new facility can be sent to: Union Grove Area Food Bank, Attn: Treasurer, 1400 D West St., No. 12, Union Grove, WI  53182

The Union Grove Area Food Bank is in the midst of its 28th year in operation. Steve Polster, then pastor of Yorkville United Methodist Church, began the organization with partnership from other churches and nonprofit organizations.