The COVID-19 Green Lake Area Relief Fund within the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation has been supporting local nonprofits focused on hunger relief and emergency assistance funding for residents experiencing economic hardship due to COVID-19.
Starting in June, the Relief Fund has been coordinating regular USDA Farmers to Families drive-thru food distributions in partnership with Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin, Advance Paper Enterprise, Hahn Transport, Horicon Bank, Green Lake County Food Pantry, Traded Treasures & Community Food Pantry, Berlin Area School District, and Markesan Food Pantry.
The boxes distributed contain fresh produce, meat, and dairy previously destined for restaurants and bulk purchasers, and keeps this food from going to waste. No proof of address or income is required.
Free food boxes will be distributed in Green Lake, Ripon and Berlin:
- July 20 and Aug 3 from 1 to 3:00 p.m. at the Green Lake County Fairgrounds, 570 South Street, Green Lake.
- July 20 and Aug 3 from 9 to 11:00 a.m. at Ripon High School, 850 Tiger Drive, Ripon.
- July 28 and Aug 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Clay Lamberton Elementary School, 259 E. Marquette Street, Berlin.
“The 2018 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) study showed that 42% of households in Green Lake County are living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet,” said Bill Wyman, president and CEO of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. “Our goal is give added support to those organizations on the front lines of caring for these working families and other vulnerable populations, who have no safety net in times of crisis, and are facing the impossible decisions of how to cover their bills in light of challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The widespread job loss and cut wages amid the pandemic have further stressed those living paycheck to paycheck. Relief Fund grants to ADVOCAP and the Salvation Army totaling $10,000 will help low-income households that are struggling to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, transportation, medical/dental care, and other dire circumstances.
Initial funding for the COVID-19 Green Lake Area Relief Fund was generously donated by The McConnell Family Foundation. Thanks to additional donations from local families and businesses along with shopper participation in Crossroads Market’s Rooster Round Up Program, contributions to the fund are just over $21,000.
“Our Rooster Round Up program has been able to raise substantial funds for many local organizations, at less than one dollar at a time,” says Mandi Hinrichs, whose family owns FLASH and Crossroads Market. “This is a great way for our shoppers to aid the community. It is amazing how quickly those few cents add up.”
The Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP) should also help some households catch up on missed rent payments. It’s funded by money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed at the end of March.
Lu Scheer is the affordable housing director at ADVOCAP, one of the community action organizations that is administering the WRAP funding in Green Lake, Fond du Lac, Winnebago, and Calumet Counties. Scheer said her organization started taking applications on June 8, and in the first month have distributed 12% of the funding that they were allocated.
Scheer said many people have used part of their government stimulus check or increased unemployment benefits to pay rent up front but are now concerned about having money for current and future months.
“Sometimes they are prioritizing rent. But if they do that, then they don’t have any money left for other household expenses. Or because the eviction moratorium was in place through May 26, they paid other critical bills that they still had to pay and now they’re behind on rent,” Scheer said. “We also have some people who come to us who have not yet received their unemployment benefits even now, even though they were laid off several weeks ago, even months ago.”
If you find yourself unable to pay rent because COVID-19 has had a negative impact on your income, please call (920) 922-7760 to see if you qualify for assistance.
“We are thankful to the community organizations and individuals that have joined our family in building a relief fund for the nonprofits in our area. Because of this community’s generosity, we can provide a bit of help and hope via these organizations to families and individuals that are deeply impacted by the pandemic,” added Hinrichs.
There are many ways to support our community in this time of need. In addition to considering a gift to the COVID-19 Green Lake Area Relief Fund or “rounding up” when shopping at Crossroads, residents are encouraged to continue to support the charities they care about that are struggling with diminished revenue. For more information on how to donate to the Relief Fund, please visit www.oshkoshareacf.org/fund/covid-19-green-lake-area-relief-fund/.
Emergency Assistance Resources
Rental assistance: Call ADVOCAP at 920-922-7760 to learn how to apply for the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP). Income requirements. Must be behind on rent due to COVID-19.
Utility assistance: Call Green Lake County Health & Human Services at 920-294-4070 or apply online at https://bit.ly/3efvrRf. Income requirements.
Emergency financial assistance: Call ADVOCAP at 920-361-9880. Or call the Salvation Army at 920-361-0488 (Green Lake County residents) and 920-924-8654 (Ripon and Fond du Lac County residents).
Legal aid for evictions: Call Legal Action of Wisconsin at (855) 947-2529 for free legal aid for tenants who have received an eviction notice. Income requirements.