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Program provides free pizza for those in need

Posted May 20th, 2015

Eau Claire’s homeless population and others down on their luck have access to more food, thanks to a chance conversation and a willingness to help.

Earlier this year Bloomer resident Mike Reetz spoke with a woman who told him about a program elsewhere in the U.S. in which people donated money to pay for pizzas to feed people in need. Having learned about the plight of a growing number of homeless people in Eau Claire, Reetz decided to attempt to mirror that effort here.

Reetz subsequently contacted a Pizza Plus employee who directed him to the restaurant’s owner, Benny Haas. Haas liked Reetz’s idea, dubbed Pizza it Forward, and decided to make pizza available at his restaurant for people in need of a meal. 

Reetz then approached members of the church he attends, Saving Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, and the congregation quickly raised more than $200 to get the meal program off the ground. The restaurant began serving pizza to people in need about a month ago. Each pizza meal consists of two slices and can be eaten at the restaurant or taken out. Donors spend $3 for each meal.

“It was heartening to see people so supportive of this,” Reetz said, noting he hopes donations to the program placed in a collection jar at Pizza Plus will sustain Pizza it Forward. “I have to give (Pizza Plus) a lot of credit. Some people prefer not to acknowledge the homeless people downtown. But (Haas) is willing to open up his doors to them.” 

Reetz deflected credit for Pizza it Forward to the woman who gave him the idea. He said he has tried to locate her since but has been unable to do so. 

“I like to think she was an angel who gave me this really good idea,” he said. “I felt compelled to take it and run with it.”

Haas said he felt similarly when he was approached about the idea. 

“These people are part of our community,” he said, noting typically a few people each day stop in for pizza meals. “If we can help somebody who needs it, that is something we want to do.”

Click here see the entire Leader Telegram article.