As the largest food center network in Milwaukee, Friedens is a stabilizing force in our neighborhoods. Through our programs we strive to leverage food to build relationships and address the holistic needs of community members. We envision a more equitable world where people have enough resources to thrive.
Founded in 1978, Friedens Food Pantries grew from a charitable program of Friedens United Church of Christ. Established by German immigrants, that church was named “friedens” meaning “peace.” Even though that church has closed, and we are no longer strictly a faith-based organization, the work of peace-building continues to persist and grow through Friedens Food Pantries. Now, our work is based in building community through nourishment.
Today, Friedens is the largest network of community food pantries in Milwaukee. We provide encouraging spaces for community members to select free quality foods and explore nutrition and wellbeing. Our foods are thoughtfully sourced to offer options and reduce waste. We’re always looking for valuable ways to love our community, which is why we go out of our way to meet people where they’re at. When we join together, we are nourished and help each other grow.
Our pantries exist by, with, and for our community. Our services grew from the social justice activism of the Friedens United Church of Christ in Milwaukee. It started with $150 of food, a pick-up truck, and three individuals who stood on a street corner of Milwaukee’s Southside and invited neighbors out for food and fellowship. Community members were asked what other resources were needed and invited to return the next week to help set up. The neighbors returned, bringing their friends and relatives. Our street corner community grew until we needed a permanent home, and expanded to include three additional sites where we continue service of raising all people up in hope and resiliency by providing nourishment for mind, body and soul.
Over time we’ve transformed our food pantries into community centers that use food as a connection point to build relationships and strengthen neighborhoods. Our pantries shifted to a shopping model where community members select the foods they need and enjoy with the support of volunteers. We now provide a vast array of equity-centered programs including: food & nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, community gardening, hydroponic greenhouses, and community dinners.
Now in our 45th year, we are an organization building community through nourishment. Most recently, we’ve launched Home Delivery for those who are not able to join our community at the pantry sites, using food to further break down barriers of isolation. We also created a Food Recovery program that rescues a variety of foods including fresh produce from local grocery stores in an effort to reduce food waste and further expand food security for those most in need. We remain committed to finding creative and cutting edge solutions to food insecurity and community building.