What is the Food Pantry

The FOCUS Food Pantry evolved from the South Wood Emergency Pantry Shelf (SWEPS), a community service started in 1975 to help area residents in emergency situations. In 2015, SWEPS began operating as a supplemental food pantry, and in 2020 merged into the FOCUS organization. It currently serves more than 600 households a month. Eligibility to use the Food Pantry is based on local residency and income.

The Numbers

• In 2023, more than 7,683 households, representing more than 20,900 individuals, were served by the Food Pantry.
• Many of the volunteers at the Food Pantry come from local churches that also provide financial assistance.
• The Food Pantry is fortunate to receive more than 671,000 pounds of donated food annually.

When and Where

FOCUS is located at 2321 West Grand Avenue, Wisconsin Rapids. The main entrance is on the southeast side of the building.



We are very fortunate to obtain our food from several sources. Our primary source is Feeding America, a nonprofit nationwide food bank in southeastern Wisconsin. Private corporations, foundations and private individuals contribute to Feeding America that in turn allows Feeding America to redistribute the funds as grants. Member organizations such as FOCUS use these grants to buy whatever is available at greatly reduced prices. In addition, food wholesalers and distributors donate their overruns and unsold products to Feeding America. These are then distributed to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food pantries at extremely reasonable rates.
We also buy food from large distributors and local supermarkets who frequently give us discounts. And, we are blessed with generous seasonal donations of fresh produce from local gardens, farmers, community schools, businesses and individuals that we share with our pantry, meals and backpacks programs.



SWEPS began as a nonprofit initiative to address hunger in 1975 with the limited mission of providing food to area residents who experienced a short-term emergency. It operated at the First Congregational Church that generously donated 300 square feet of operating room and was open for service five days a week, two hours each day. In 2014, Feeding America deemed our efforts were not meeting the demand by Wood County’s hungry residents, and thus our partnership with this national food bank network began.
The partnership with Feeding America enabled SWEPS to utilize their food acquisition resources. One such resource was the Direct Connect Program whereby food is collected from local area partners like Walmart, Aldi, Pick-N-Save, and all five Kwik Trips. Through this program, we can limit the amount of food that would be taken to landfills and get more in the hands of people who need it. 
In the fall of 2015, the SWEPS board approved a reorganization to operate as a supplemental food pantry and the move to a new location at 331 – 12th Avenue South to better meet the need for food insecurity. In November, 2015, SWEPS became an independent 501(c)3 organization known as the South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf. At the new location, an enormous increase in outreach was experienced both for individuals and families served. We then began to provide clients with a 30 day supply of food.
During 2019, an initiative was undertaken to study the benefits and synergies of merging like-minded food insecurity organizations in Wisconsin Rapids. The result was the formation of FOCUS with the merging of SWEPS, The Neighborhood Table and the Family Backpacks Program. The pantry portion of FOCUS is now known as the FOCUS Food Pantry.