Last week the food pantry was used 199 times serving 897 individuals. So far in April we have assisted 423 families with 1,821 individuals. This is a lot more than we usually do in an entire month.
On Wednesday 202 prepacks were made which was great. We plan to do the same amount next Wednesday. I took pictures of the various groups doing the prepacks that were spread around the food pantry with their faces covered with masks. My very favorite line of the day was when I told everyone to smile.
Greater Chicago Food Depository - I cannot say enough good things about them. They have been supporting us for many years and we could not do what we do for our neighbors in need without them. Since the start of the pandemic they have really stepped up to the challenge. Yesterday we received a total of 26,441# of food because of them. It did not cost us anything!!!
21,751 in our bi-monthly delivery which includes USDA
881 in CEDA produce
3,480 in our weekly food rescue
330 in our Aldi's pickup
Our bi-monthly delivery is usually 10,000-12,000# of free items. However we need to get more due to the current situation and our current increase in numbers. I know this sounds like a lot but it has to cover the next 2 weeks before we get another large delivery.
Theo, our food rescue driver, gave me a note yesterday. Due to the increase of delivery amounts (see our example above), until further notice the Food Depository will no longer be picking up bread/bakery items. They don't have the manpower or storage space for them.
Last Wednesday, April 8th, people kept dropping off donations of food because they wanted to help. They were our parishioners plus families from St. Hubert's who help us with their own food drives.
Each week the Food Depository has been holding a conference call for all the food pantries and soup kitchens that are member agencies. I dialed in on my laptop. They have been asking us to send in pictures of how we are handling the increase in usage. I sent some pictures of us loading up the cars. One of the first items on the agenda was to show some of the pictures. Of course, we were the first one on the list. Most of the other food pantries were in the city where people typically walk or take public transportation. They sent in pictures of tables outside their food pantries lined up with bags and bags of food. It is very humbling but gratifying to see how everyone is stepping up to the increased need.
Other items that were discussed or shared:
Operations - it has been difficult to get the food that is needed. Things are getting better as far as being able to order items but there are still delays in arriving.
Food Safety - Please do not use chemicals to sanitize your food. It is almost equivalent to using poison. If you feel a need, use soap and water but be sure to rinse produce that you will not peel completely. Cooking temperatures of food remains the same.
They are trying to procure more masks and gloves for their staff plus trying to make some available to distribute to the food pantries.
Many food pantries were barely getting by both financially and with volunteers. About 30% of them have closed because of this. The Food Depository has started a grant program for pantries that are in poverty areas, less than 2 food pantries in a designated area, have a vulnerable population and have the highest rate of food insecurity. We are so blessed that we do not fall into any of those categories.
Thank you to all of you who have continued to make the food pantry possible. Also thank you to those of you who have been unable to come to the food pantry physically as we all know you are keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.
I wish everyone a blessed and happy Easter.
Thank you for all that you do! ❤