A retired chef now uses Mobile Pantry food to create home-cooked meals

Sheila peers out of her car in line for the Mobile Pantry

Sheila knows how to cook a great meal. Before she retired and returned home to the U.P., she worked in Minneapolis as the food service manager at an assisted living facility. In this role, she stocked the kitchen, came up with weekly menus and found creative ways to incorporate foods some of the residents had trouble with. For example, some intellectually disabled residents would see rice and think of bugs, so Sheila was challenged to solve that problem.

Today, Sheila prepares delicious meals for herself, her mother and her brother, who all live together in Sheila’s childhood home. Often, she incorporates food she receives at Marquette County Mobile Pantries into her dishes.

“I don’t have that issue of ‘oh, I wish we could get this this time,’” she said. “I can take advantage of what I have and make something out of that.”

Sheila peers out of her car in line for the Mobile Pantry

Sheila and her family members are retired and live on fixed incomes. Because of this, it’s sometimes a challenge to maintain their home and pay all their bills. Mobile Pantries help fill gaps that might otherwise appear on their plates. At each food distribution, she receives plenty of fresh produce, dairy products and other nutritious food.

“The supplement is so good that it is really helpful,” she said.

Sheila shared she enjoys the surprise mix of food she receives particularly because it’s not always something she would’ve thought to get at the store. A recent distribution provided corn, something she hadn’t had in a while but was eager to incorporate into her cooking.

Two volunteers stand near brown bags and a gaylord full of corn.
Mobile Pantry volunteers prepare to serve neighbors.

As a retiree, Sheila misses her work in the food industry but also enjoys the quiet pace of life she’s transitioned to. If she’s not cooking, you’ll most likely find her gardening — she is currently growing tomatoes — or drinking coffee while watching the myriad of animals that congregate in her backyard.

Like Sheila, 90 percent of Mobile Pantry attendees are interested in eating more fruits or vegetables. And, more than half of neighbors surveyed in our recent Mobile Pantry study said they get most or all of their fresh fruit and vegetables at these food distributions.

Supporters like the Rotary Club of Marquette, the Superior Health Foundation and the Cleveland-Cliffs Foundation help the food bank provide Mobile Food Pantries in Marquette County so neighbors like Sheila have food support available when they find themselves in need. When resources like Mobile Pantries are consistently available, neighbors at risk of hunger are empowered with the food they need to thrive.

Story written by Communication Specialist Juliana Ludema.