By Annika Morschauser
GREEN BAY – Vivent Health is a nonprofit that provides many different services for those with HIV and AIDS.
One of these services is their food pantry which supplies essential nutritional foods for their clients and in some cases their families as well.
Vivent Health began operations in 1985 as the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
There are four clinical locations in the state — Madison, Milwaukee, Kenosha and Green Bay.
The clinical locations provide all their offered services while smaller locations offer prevention, food pantry and case management services.
Vivent Health has merged with locations outside of Wisconsin such as Austin, Texas; Chicago, Ill. and Denver, Colo. to name a few.
The organization’s Green Bay facility is located at 445 South Adams Street, and their food pantry has been active for 25 years.
Meredith Stich, a clinic case manager at Vivent Health, shared how the food pantry works and how it helps their clients, sharing that it serves an average of about 45 people monthly which could include those that are receiving family services.
She noted that there has been an increase of use of the food pantry as Food Share benefits are coming to an end with COVID-19.
This year they have served 175 individuals so far.
“We’re happy to serve people and it just really helps them along,” Stich said.
The food pantry consists of different sections.
There is the hygiene display that Vivent Health buys from Dollar Tree using funding from donations and grants such as the Ryan White Grant.
The walk-in fridge and walk-in freezer store dairy, fresh produce, meat, etc.
Vivent Health orders produce weekly from a wholesaler in Green Bay and with help from their donor, Feeding America, they can fill other areas of the pantry such as meat and canned vegetables that they receive from the Milwaukee location which distributes to smaller locations.
There is an area for canned vegetables along with an area for other pantry items.
The food pantry holds donations from different donors that are partnered with Vivent Health as well as donations from the community.
Vivent Health welcomes donations from individuals whether in grocery store items or even produce from home gardens.
Clients interested in using the food pantry go through a process with their case manager to determine if they are eligible.
One requirement is that they are under the 500% federal poverty income level.
Depending on the client’s situation such as if they’re providing for a family or not, they could acquire two or more orders per month.
There are also regulations for how many of each food item can be taken per order.
For example, five canned or frozen vegetables can be taken per order.
There are nutritional guides as well as a nutritionist to help choose what food items would be best for the client as nutrition is extremely important for those undergoing HIV treatment.
There is a volunteer who comes in for a couple of hours two days a week for the food pantry; otherwise, the case managers are responsible for distributing food items to their clients.
When a client who is eligible to use the food pantry asks to make an order, a case manager goes with the client into the food pantry to help and supervise them while they shop.
The case manager helps them bring the order to the client’s form of transportation or they provide backpacks for those who don’t have transportation or might be homeless.
The food pantry also benefits their clients who aren’t documented citizens since other food pantries won’t allow them to use their facilities due to their illegal status.
Vivent Health then helps those clients in their legal effort to gain citizenship.
Apart from supplying food themselves, Vivent Health communicates with their clients about other food pantries, free meals, etc. in the area that they can take advantage of.
Vivent Health provides medical, behavioral health, pharmacy, dental, legal, case management, housing and food services to those with HIV or AIDS.
For more information, visit https://viventhealth.org.