Every month, the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry provides food to about 1,500 people who are at risk of going hungry without the nonprofit’s help. Forty percent of those helped are children.
In recent years, the food pantry has experienced an increase in the number of families and individuals it serves. With the holidays around the corner, the organization is hoping the community will help ensure that everyone has a happy Thanksgiving and answer the call for its Thanksgiving Meal Appeal.
The Glen Ellyn Food Pantry is seeking sponsors for its Thanksgiving Meal Boxes. This year, the organization will distribute 660 meal boxes (450 large family; 170 small family), Executive Director Susan Papierski said. That number is 110 more meal boxes than it distributed last year.
“Hunger shows itself in so many ways and does not always have a recognizable face,” Papierski said. “Our client base consists of 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.”
The Glen Ellyn Food Pantry serves 13,000 individuals every year, 3,800 families and 6,000 children, Papierski said. It distributes approximately 19,000 bags of groceries every year. The food pantry serves residents of Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Wheaton, Lisle, Glendale Heights, and Carol Stream.
A $40 donation provides a family of four with a Thanksgiving Meal Box, purchased from Northern Illinois Food Bank, which includes a turkey and sides dishes. The nonprofit provides a food gift card, which allows families to buy the perishable items they will need to complete their holiday meal.
The turkey boxes are purchased from the Northern Illinois Food Bank at a reduced cost, which enables the food pantry to maximize its distribution, Papierski said.
The turkey box includes a frozen turkey with sides, usually a boxed potato mix, quick-bread mix, dessert mix, pudding or Jell-O, canned fruit, vegetables, soup and coffee or tea, she said. Clients are able to use their food gift card to purchase the other Thanksgiving essentials.
Over the last three to four years, the number of clients served with the Thanksgiving meals has increased 50 to 60 boxes each year, she said. By early November, the requests usually fill up. There are usually enough boxes for any additional requests.
For the smaller family meals, the food pantry will put together a meal, which may include a whole chicken or turkey breast and other food items the food pantry collects, she said.
In addition to accepting donations for the Thanksgiving Meal Appeal, the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry is also accepting food donations. This is its greatest time of need, Papierski said. It will accept almost any nonperishable food item, paper or personal products. (Find a full list in the photo gallery.)
Donations can be made online, or mailed to Glen Ellyn Food Pantry, 493 Forest Ave., Glen Ellyn IL 60137.