What is the Neighborhood Meals

FOCUS Neighborhood Meals evolved from The Neighborhood Table (TNT), a free community meal service that began on New Year’s Eve in 2003.  The original meal served about 50 people.  The meal program grew substantially since 2003 and serves approximately 120 meals each Thursday night.  FOCUS Neighborhood Meals is a place where all are welcome to enjoy a freshly cooked meal in a safe and friendly environment.

The Numbers

• More than 34 groups have sponsored meals this past year and many of them sponsor 2 or more.
• The sponsor groups have provided over 500 volunteers to serve the meals.
• A core group of over 150 volunteers manages the meals by planning, cooking, plating, and cleaning up after the meals.
• In 2022 we served over 18,000 meals to our community.

When and Where

• Meals are served on Thursdays from 4:30-5:45. Closed holidays
• The dining room opens at 4:15 for seating and guests are asked to not enter the building before 4 PM
• Entrance is thru the Pantry doors with a small waiting area for your convenience.
• All of our meals are healthy and nutritious usually consisting of a meat, starch, vegetable, fruit and dessert.
• Inclement Weather Policy: For the safety of our guests and volunteers, FNMeals will close if the Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools cancel school for inclement weather.


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.



The Neighborhood Table is a community meal/soup kitchen program for those in need of a free meal, or the companionship of others to share a meal.

The idea for The Neighborhood Table started in 2000 when Ginny Steen, our founder, was at a church in Waupaca, Wisconsin. She saw a tent sign promoting “The Bread Basket” that supplied a meal to anyone each week. She asked the pastor for more information, and he explained they had started it because of the need in their community. Ginny felt there was a need for a similar program in the Wisconsin Rapids area, so she sent requests to several local churches. At that time, there appeared to be no interest in starting the program so Ginny let the idea go.

Then in 2003, Ginny’s granddaughter, Katelynn Morrison, visited friends in the Fox Valley area and they all helped at the local soup kitchen as part of her visit. When she returned home, Katelyn told her Grandma about the trip and said, “Grammy, remember that soup kitchen thing you tried to start a few years ago? Well, I think you should try it again.”

Soon thereafter, Ginny wrote letters to the four churches surrounding the post office which is the central location in Wisconsin Rapids. Economic times had changed and there was immediate interest and response. Ginny also wrote to the Community Foundation of South Wood County (now the Incourage Foundation) and received a $1,000 start-up grant. After several meetings with interested people, combined with local newspaper coverage, The Neighborhood Table project was off the ground and running. The first meal was served on December 31, 2003, to about 55 people.

Initially meals were served twice per month, but as attendance grew so did the frequency of our meals. We now serve meals every Thursday from 4:30 pm to 5:45 pm.

Through the help of our dedicated volunteers, no one will go hungry if we can help it. We try to reach as many people as we can and hope that those who need our services come to our meals


Advanced Janitorial
Ameriprise Financial, Inc.
Aspirus Doctors Clinic Staff
Aspirus Health
Aspirus Riverview Hospital
Assumption High School Key Club
Assumption High School Senior Class
Assumption Middle School
Baker Street Community Church
Bethany Lutheran Church
Bev’s Floral
Calvary Baptist Church
Catalyst Paper
Central Wisconsin Labor Council
Central Wisconsin Community Care
China Palace
Christian Life Fellowship
Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints
Church at Wazeecha
Crossview Church
Community Care of Central Wisconsin
Community Christian Academy
Conville/Quinnell Families
Corenso North America
Creepers Car Club
Daly Drug
Davita Dialysis
Dixie’s Chix
Duncan Disability Law, SC
Eagles Club, F.O.E. Aerie #373
East Junior High School Student Council
Element Mobile
Elks Ladies of Wis. Rapids
Erco Worldwide Inc.
Express Recycling Solutions
Faith Reformed Church
First Congregational Church
First English Lutheran Church
Gamma Phi
Grace Lutheran Church
Grace Lutheran Church Youth Group
Grand Rapids Fire Department
Great Expectations Catering
Grove School
Hay Creek Companies
HHA Sports
Hmong Moms’ Support of Wis. Rapids
Ho-Chunk Gaming, Nekoosa
Howe Elementary School
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Incourage Community Foundation
Independent Motorcycle Organization
Insight FS
Interact Group
Jeanne Lou Truitt
Kindred Bible Study Group
Klawitter/Severin Families
Knights of Columbus
Leadership Group of WR
Lincoln High School:
– Boys Basketball Team
– Boys Hockey Team
– Cross Country Team
– National Honor Society
– Staff
– Student Council
– Stunt & Cheer Team
Living Son Church
Members’ Advantage Credit Union
Mid-State Correctional Club
Mid-State Technical College Students Environmentally United for a Sustainable Society

Modern Woodmen of America
Neighborhood Table
Nekoosa High School – National Honor Society
ND Paper
Nekoosa Lions Club
Nekoosa United Church of Christ
Nekoosa VFW Post NewPage Corp.
Noon Rotary Club
North Central Realty
Optimist Club
Our Lady Queen of Heaven – Confirmation Class
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church
Our House Senior Living
Paper City Savings Association
Pilgrim UCC Youth Mission Group
Pitsch School PTC
Polito’s Pizza
Port Edwards Honor Society
Port Edwards Lions
Port Edwards United Methodist Church
Prevail Bank
Rapids Citizens for Peace
Renaissance Learning
Renaissance Learning – R&D Dept
Renaissance Learning Employees
River Cities Bank
River Cities Clubhouse
Riverview Hospital Association
Riverview Hospital Human Resources
Riverview Hospital-Coffee Shop Employees
Rotary Club
Rudolph Elementary staff, teachers and parents
Rudolph Think Academy
Rudolph/Vesper Elem. Schools
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Saint Alexander Catholic Church
Saint John’s Episcopal Church
Saint John Lutheran Church of Kellner
Saint Lawrence Church
Saint Luke’s Lutheran Church
Saint Mary’s
Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Saint Philips Catholic Church, Rudolph
St. Philips Catholic Church, Parish Council of Catholic Women, Rudolph
Saint Vincent de Paul Confirmation Class
Saint Vincent de Paul Congregation
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Salvation Army
Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Shermalot Water Ski Team
Small Change Group
Sunrise Rotary Club
Teachers Teaching Teachers
The Lucas Family
The Proud Ones, LLC
Trinity Lutheran Church of Port Edwards
Truitt, Jean Lous
United Methodist Church of WR
United Steelworkers Local #59
US Post Office – Wis. Rapids
Valley Communities Credit Union
Verso Corporation
Vesper Elementary Teachers, Staff & Parents
Washington Elementary School
Water Works & Lighting Commission
Wis. Rapids Education Assn.
Wis. Rapids Kiwanis Club
Wis. Rapids Moravian Church
Wis. Rapids Post Office
Wis. Rapids Substitute Teachers Union
Wis. Rapids Public Schools
WRPS Bridges Out of Poverty
Wood County Health Dept
WoodTrust Bank
Woodland Lutheran Church
Woodlands Church
Woodlands Church Youth Group

Volunteer How you can Help


Work with meal sponsor group to ensure a successful meal for everyone – our guests and our meal sponsors. Duties include planning the meal, verifying appropriate volunteer resources and assisting in the preparation of the meal as needed. This person is the primary contact person between our sponsor groups and FOCUS Neighborhood Meals. Time commitment is a couple of few hours prior to the meal date working with the sponsor and four to six hours on the actual date of the meal. We ask that our meal coordinators help with a meal every four to six weeks. Knowledge of food preparation and food safety for large groups is helpful. Training will be provided.
Meal Coordinators will be responsible for inventory management. Using Google sheets inventory they will plan their meal and then update the inventory once the meal is over. Needs should be conveyed to the FOCUS general manager who will then order the items.


Helps the Meal Coordinator on meal day and occasionally with arrangements for the meal.  The Meal Coordinator and the assistant work hand in hand to ensure a smooth meal day.

Head Cook

FOCUS Neighborhood Meals has a volunteer opportunity to lead the details of food preparation for our meals. This would require a period of orientation and training to become familiar with bulk food preparation….Direct the efforts of assistant cooks and other helping in the kitchen…

It is the responsibility of the cook and helper to clean up their area at the end of the evening.

We need volunteers who are free at these times: Occasional – Weekdays

This volunteer opportunity is available to those who are age 18 or older.

Assistant Cook

FOCUS Neighborhood Meals has a volunteer opportunity to provide assistance to our head cook for meal preparation. Examples of duties may include making large batches of mashed potatoes, cooking vegetables, preparing batch pans of chicken patties or Salisbury steaks, etc.

It is the responsibility of the cook and helper to clean up their area at the end of the evening.

We need volunteers who are free at these times: Occasional – Weekdays

This volunteer opportunity is available to those who are age 18 or older.


This volunteer opportunity is available to those who are age 18 or older or 14 with an adult.

At meals end the servers will remove everything from the tables, wipe them down, and put the chairs on top of the tables.


At the end of the evening, the dishwasher area must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.  Once per month the dishwasher must be delimed according to the checklist provided.


Coach meal sponsor’s volunteers to successfully clean up and secure our meal site. Answer any questions the volunteers may have about clean-up tasks or about the meal program. Closers should be willing to pitch in wherever needed at the end of the evening.  The closers will secure the building according to the checklist provided and will be one of the last to leave with the Meal Coordinator.  We ask that our closers would help with a meal every four to six weeks. Good communication and delegation skills are desired. Time commitment is two to three hours per meal. Training is provided.

We need volunteers who are free at these times: Evenings – Weekly – Occasional

This volunteer opportunity is available to those who are age 18 or older.