Papierski: Remembering 2013 at the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry

Community voice

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 1:45 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided)
Susan Papierski

The year 2013 was quite a year at the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry.

Just as we thought we could not fit any more into our space at Grace Lutheran Church, we managed to add an additional 100 client appointments, recover food donations from two very large retailers in the area and distribute 550 Thanksgiving meal boxes to our clients in November.

We are thankful to our incredibly supportive community residents, schools, businesses and organizations for their partnerships in helping to combat hunger in our community.

Let me tell you a bit more about our food pantry:

We serve … 17,500 individuals per year.

Which includes … 4,900 families per year.

And 7,000 children per year.

And we distribute over 27,000 bags of groceries every year.

Who do we serve? Residents of Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Glendale Heights, Carol Stream, Lombard and Lisle, and residents of surrounding communities on an emergency basis.

I was asked recently what my “typical client family” looks like. Truly, there is no “typical” when describing the demographics of our pantry.

Our client base consists of working individuals and working families who have difficulty making ends meet due to any number of reasons, individuals with medical issues preventing them from working, recent immigrants new to this country looking to establish themselves in a new and unknown environment, individuals or families who have fallen victim to recent tragedy or job loss, individuals on fixed income … the list goes on and on.

One of our many favorite clients, Linda, is a single mother, has two children of her own and recently moved her two teenage nephews into her home because their parents passed away. Linda has not worked in over a year, so she visits the Food Pantry to supplement her ever increasing grocery bill. Hunger shows itself in many forms and does not always have a recognizable face.

We are very blessed at our food pantry, in so many ways, of course, but because we are a smaller pantry, we are afforded the opportunity to really get to know our clients on a more personal level. They share their joys, their hardships, health concerns, family issues, recipes and health tips, among many other things. Our clients are amazing, and honestly, we get back from them as much or more than we give. Yes, we provide food to them and their families, but most of all, we want to be the smile in their day that may be missing.

Unfortunately, our client base has risen dramatically over the past few years, serving an additional number of families by 20 percent per year for the past two years and distributing an additional 4,000 bags of groceries. Our emergency food distribution has risen an astonishing 60 percent in recent months. Additionally, we have to decline more than 50 families per month due to lack of funding.

However, it is because of the huge number of people who support us by donating food, finances, time and talents that we are able to reach out to these numbers of families in need: our church families, school districts, community organizations, and most of all, the volunteers who work in our pantry every month and provide generous donations to help us meet our mission of feeding the hungry in our community. We are truly grateful! Thank you!

If you are not familiar with our food pantry, would like to hear more about how you can volunteer, donate and get involved, would like to know about our food needs or would just like to visit, please stop by our pantry, call at 630-469-8668 or visit our website at www.glenellynfoodpantry.org.

Thank you again for your continued support of the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry!

Susan Papierski is executive director of the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry

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