Bobby Portis Volunteered for a Mobile South Side Food Pantry

The basketball star says it is now his calling to give back to others.

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin teamed up with the Bobby Portis Foundation to host a mobile South Side food pantry on Monday evening.

Portis, a Milwaukee Bucks’ fan favorite, helped hand out pre-packed boxes of healthy foods, funded by his foundation, at a distribution site outside the UMOS headquarters on South Chase Avenue, where cars formed long lines.

“It’s a privilege to be able to give back to the community that’s shown so much love to me,” Portis said. “Milwaukee has become home to me and my family. We’re excited for the opportunity to give a helping hand to those most in need.”

The food boxes included a mix of high-demand, shelf-stable items such as peanut butter, rice, beans and cereal. Families also received meat and fresh produce.

Photo by Rich Rovito

“It’s the holidays. We love to give back. We love spreading our blessings to others,” Portis said during a break from distributing food. “I love the smiles on others’ faces. We can’t change someone’s life entirely but giving a helping hand is always good.”



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A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Portis is in his third season with the Bucks and played a key role in the team’s run to an NBA title in 2020-21 season, which came 50 years after its one and only crown. He said he feels very much at home in Milwaukee.

“It’s a great community. It’s a blue-collar community,” Portis said. “Everybody works hard.”

Portis said he understands the struggles that families often face and wants to do what he can to assist in his adopted hometown.

“Me and my family had help along the way growing up,” Portis said. “It’s now my calling to help others.”

Portis, along with his family, members of the foundation and volunteers, distributed the pre-packed boxes to cars in drive-thru fashion. DJ Shawna Nichols, the Bucks’ in-game DJ, also lent a hand.

Photo by Rich Rovito

Several people expressed surprise as Portis approached their vehicles. Others exchanged fist bumps with Portis, who is often referred to as the unofficial mayor of Milwaukee

“Bobby’s dedication to our community is second to none,” Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin President and CEO Patti Habeck said. “He approached us with the idea of providing meals to families right in the heart of the holiday season. We are thrilled to see this vision come to life.”

As an ambassador for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Portis is also championing the 2023 PB&J Challenge, which begins in January.



Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.