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WAFER Food Pantry awarded United Way Venture Grant

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WAFER Food Pantry set aside its sweepers and mops Thursday morning to make room for a new high-power industrial floor cleaner, a much needed purchase made possible through a Great Rivers United Way Venture Grant.

WAFER is the third regional nonprofit to receive a Venture Grant this summer, awarded $1,549 to cover the cost of the floor cleaner, which uses solely water to cleanse and buff the surface, eliminating the risk of chemically contaminating the food stored in the facility.

“We have a rather large facility that has a lot of traffic in and out,” said Erin Waldhart, executive director of WAFER. “It gets dirty very easily. We currently just have brooms and mops that take a lot of time and manpower and don’t really get down to the ‘nitty gritty.’”

In honor of its 70th anniversary, the United Way is bestowing nine local organizations with a total of $15,000 in one-time, nonrenewable grants to fund smaller scale projects or purchases. Last week’s awardee was the Coulee Council on Addictions Outdoor Recovery Program.

Grants are reserved for area organizations that meet one or more of the objectives of positively impacting area youth, helping stabilize household economic situations or supporting a healthy and socially connected community.

The floor cleaner, Walhart says, will aid in maintaining a presentable, hygienic and food-safe facility as well as freeing more hours for volunteers and staff.

“I feel really grateful ... this is a piece of equipment we definitely couldn’t afford with United Way’s funding,” Waldhart said.

For more information on Great Rivers United Way, visit

Emily Pyrek can be reached at


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