Holiday Guide: Food Pantries Feed the Needy

Area food pantries need volunteers who can donate time as well as money.

Overall, township food pantries have experienced a big increase in users, but thanks to donations, needy families won’t go hungry this holiday season.

In Shields Township, which covers Lake Bluff, most of Lake Forest, and part of North Chicago, the food pantry has seen a 51 percent increase in use since last year, said Supervisor Gale Strenger Wayne.

One of the best ways for individuals and community organizations to help stock food is by donating cash to the food pantry.

“The food pantry is a member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank and it is always so wonderful when we get cash donations because of the leverage; $1 cash buys 9 pounds of food. That’s huge,” Wayne said.

The Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) acquires, handles, and distributes food to pantries, soup kitchens,  and shelters. The food bank acquires donated food from local retailers, local and national manufacturers, individuals, businesses, and the federal government. The NIFB serves 13 northern Illinois counties.

In Libertyville Township, the food pantry supplements its food donations with NIFB purchases.

“What is wonderful about cash donations, is when the food bank has deals on items that are incredibly inexpensive. With cash donations, we can purchase items in bulk,” said Supervisor Kathleen O’Connor of Libertyville Township, which covers the villages of Libertyville, Green Oaks and parts of Mundelein and Vernon Hills.

At Avon Township, 95 percent of food comes from NIFB. Avon Township includes Grayslake, the Round Lake communities and Third Lake.

Cash donations are always welcome. While food can expire, money can be put aside to buy food from NIFB throughout the year to help needy families.

Volunteers willing to give of their time are also welcome at area food pantries. There is always plenty of work at the food pantry -- stocking shelves, putting together food bags, helping with distributions of holiday meals.

Giving time or donations this holiday season, can be a good way to get into the giving spirit of the holidays.

“You can see how good people feel when they make a donation, see how grateful recipients are, it's such a win-win for the community,” Wayne said.

Township food pantries are run by volunteers and funded through donations. No tax dollars are used to run the food pantries.

Following are some needs of area food pantries. Contact the township for more information.

  • Libertyville Township Food Pantry, 847-816-6800 Libertyville Township is still accepting donations of food. A list of items needed is available on the township website. O’Connor said some people like to donate gift cards to give needy families an opportunity to shop for what they need. Those interested in volunteering their time, should contact the township social worker, Linda Blatnik, at the township office.
  • Avon Township Food Pantry, 847-546-1446 The Avon Township Food Pantry accepts donations of both food or money to buy food at the food bank.
  • Shields Township Food Pantry, 847-234-0802 Shields Township is well stocked with paper products thanks to a paper drive at Lake Bluff Elementary School. The food pantry is in need of donations of personal hygiene items such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste and deodorant.
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