$90,000 grant will allow the food pantry to meet the needs of the Village of Milan

Milan Christian Food Pantry will renovate donated space, move to new location thanks to support from the Brissman Foundation

There have been days when volunteers at the Milan Christian Food Pantry literally bump into each other while they work. “We have used every square inch of space,” said Al Nordstrom, who serves on the pantry board of directors.

That will soon be a thing of the past, though, thanks to the generosity of local attorney Kenneth Collinson, who donated his former office building located on Highway 67 in downtown Milan to the pantry. It is a transformative gift for the organization that engages about 100 annual volunteers and serves nearly 300 families in the Village of Milan each month.

But the food pantry would be unable to move without some changes to the building. “The building needed to be brought up to code and work was needed to ensure that it can be as impactful of a space as possible for the organization,” said Gerry Huiskamp, one of three trustees of the Grant W. Brissman and Virginia M. Brissman Foundation, a private foundation administered through the Quad Cities Community Foundation. The Brissman Foundation distributes charitable funds to nonprofit organizations to help to improve the quality of life in the Village of Milan, Illinois.

The foundation recently stepped in, granting more than $90,000 to the pantry to help them move the renovation project forward. This means great things for the food pantry, Nordstrom said, given that the pantry will no longer need to pay rent on a building, and the new space is significantly larger. “This is a really good boost for Milan and it emphasizes the care residents have for our neighborhood and community,” he said.

It’s an investment, Huiskamp added, in the entire community. “There’s a wonderful commitment by the volunteers and so our commitment to them is to support the work they do,” he said. “The grant is a substantial amount of money that will allow us to continue to feed our community for a long time.”

This is not the first time the Brissman Foundation has been a champion of the food pantry. The pantry was actually started five years ago thanks to a grant from the Brissman Foundation. Milan Christian Food Pantry is operated through a collaboration between five churches: First Presbyterian Church, St. Ambrose Catholic Church, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, St. Patrick Catholic Church, and Trinity Methodist Church. Volunteers alternate weeks of work to keep the doors open for distribution Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons. The pantry plays a critical role in the community.

For the first six months of 2019, about 880 people were supported by the food pantry each month. Nordstrom said they will be able to serve the community more efficiently at the new location, which is on a bus route.

None of it would be possible without the kindness of Collinson and the help of the Brissman Foundation, he said. “We highly value our partnership with the Brissman Foundation,” Nordstrom said. “With the opening of the new building, hopefully we will be even more effective in our mission to feed people in our community with dignity.”

The Brissman Foundation is offering another grant opportunity beginning August 15, 2019 for nonprofits improving the quality of life in the Village of Milan. Applicants may apply for up to $10,000 to support their work in the areas of youth development, community development, and cultural activities. The grant also is available to nonprofits working to relieve the suffering of underprivileged people. Applications will be accepted beginning August 15, 2019 through October 1, 2019. For more information, visit www.brissmanfoundation.org.