Rice Lake storefront

In 2008 the St. Joseph Conference of St. Vincent de Paul took over the management of the thrift store, meal site and pantry, serving the community of Rice Lake and the surrounding Barron County ever since. The Conference recognizes that many individuals and families (neighbors) have hit a rough patch and need a helping hand, and to that end have been providing assistance to meet basic needs to these Barron County residents.

Through the generosity of shoppers and donors, the Conference has distributed more than $85,058 worth of free items from the thrift store. The meal site has served 258,893 meals, and the pantry has distributed 4,510,444 pounds of groceries. Records show that many neighbors are people who are working at one or two low-paying jobs and do not make sufficient income to meet all their expenses.

The Conference members have made more than 3,857 home visits and assisted just shy of 10,000 people. Financial assistance has totaled a little more than $345,661.

Plans for the future include re-instituting a Credit-Builder Small Dollar Loan Program in which the Conference offers neighbors a small loan for immediate needs such as a set of tires for the car that they use to get to work. The loans are offered through Community Bank, are underwritten by the Conference and help neighbors who have not been familiar with banking or loan repayment develop these skills and build their credit.

Early on in the pandemic. the St. Vincent de Paul Society instituted up-to-date disinfecting procedures approved by Marshfield Clinic to keep both premises free of infection. Even now when you visit one of the sites, be assured they are disinfected regularly.

When will the dining room reopen and when families can return to choosing their own food by visiting inside. At this time the facility cannot re-open until some time in September per the restrictions of TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) of the Federal government.

One big step the Conference has taken recently is increasing the wages of all employees. As of June 14, the minimum wage after the 90 days probation period will be $15 per hour.

For more information, visit the St. Vincent de Paul website at www.svdpricelake.org or call the office at 715-234-2372. There are many ways for the public to help the Conference help neighbors in need.