About us

Our Mission & Vision

Friedens is a network of food centers building community through nourishment.

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.

Our Story

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, 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

Meet Our Staff

Sophia Torrijos

Executive Director

“Food is much more than a basic physical need, it binds us together as a human family. We laugh, cry, and build community around the table. To live a full life we need our hearts nourished as well as our bodies.”

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Aleka shewczyk

Operations Manager

“I believe every single person deserves access to healthy foods. This is where nourishment begins, but it extends far beyond the limited context of diet. Nourishment includes anything we consume into our bodies, minds and souls. It affects our physical and mental health and subsequent happiness. My work at Friedens is dedicated to nourishing Milwaukee’s at-risk community, and through this work I am also nourished.”

Katie Garcia

Home Delivery Coordinator

“For me nourishment means to have the sense of peace and freedom to eat what pleases your body and mind or what brings you joy.”

Abby Brace

Volunteer & Grant Coordinator

“If someone is nourished,  they not only have the bare minimum of what they need when it comes to food, shelter, and community, but they also have extra beyond that and are able to have what they want.”

Erik Koepnick

Community Engagement Manager

To me, nourishment means receiving care that allows one to thrive. Peace is a state of being without worry, like when a person’s basic needs for food, shelter, and belonging in a community are fulfilled.

Cheryl Ousley

Site Manager (Coggs & Hope House)

“Peace is being in a place where I am able to help others meet their needs and develop relationships with the communities we serve. Nourishment is being fulfilled in every aspect of life, starting with feeding the body…I love being able to work with and around people who are like family, who have the same heart to serve others as I do.”

Max Ramsey

Site Manager (Despensa de la Paz)

“What we can control is how we value one another, and care for one another’s concerns. We can control our attitude and our behavior. So much beyond that is beyond our control right now. Today, we can love one another, and put the needs of others before our own. This is our community. This is our way.”

Cynthia Wilson

Site Manager (Zion Rock)

” I love being a volunteer. I feel joyful, knowing that we are helping to feed children and adults who need food. We treat each patron with dignity and respect. We laugh, share stories, share recipes, and sometimes share a tear or two with someone who is really going through hard times.”

Aubree Hansen

Volunteer & Community Coordinator

“For me, nourishment means replenishing various needs, whether these be physical, mental, or spiritual. I believe it’s important to nourish the self properly so that nourishing others and creating community comes naturally.”

Erika Schmitt

Volunteer & Community Coordinator

“Nourishment isn’t just about healthy food. It’s about access to it. It’s also about Nourishing the mind, body, and Soul. I believe in holistic health and nourishment.”



Valerie MacMillan

Program Manager

“Peace is a safe space in which people are free to be themselves within a community that promotes dignity and mutual respect. And nourishment is so much more than a full belly. Nourishment has the potential to provide a pathway to growth and opportunity. A meal shared with people we love is one of the greatest gifts in life… Good food feeds conversations and grows relationships.”

Our Board of Directors

Friedens couldn't operate without our amazing volunteers—including our board!

Learn more about our Board of Directors

“It is with a grateful heart to serve Friedens Community Ministries in a leadership position as a board member and as the chairman of the board for the past several years. We have grown as an organization from two pantries to four pantries with service to all parts of the city. There are hundreds of volunteers who donate thousands of hours led by a team of dedicated core staff who give their best every day. We know that we will not end hunger in our lifetime, but we also know those we serve will receive our very best with dignity and respect. Dignity, respect, kindness, and compassion make this organization different.”

Dr. David Nelson

Former Board president

Our Community Leaders

Our volunteers, such as Meri (above) and Mark (below), inform the work and direction of our organization.

A volunteer unboxing peach cups
A volunteer holding apples

Volunteers, like Murad, serve our community with dignity, respect, and a smile on their face. 

Schedule a Tour!

Interested in getting a tour of one or all of our pantries? Sign-up below!

Learn More About Us

Read about our financial reports, newsletters, and annual reports in our archive!

Interested in Joining our Team?

Looking to become a member of our wonderful staff? Are you committed to the Friedens community and want to offer your skills and time to a great cause? Check out our current job opportunities below!