“Working together to provide hunger relief in our community.”
In its effort to provide hunger relief in 2012, Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry provided nutritious groceries, produce, meat and dairy products to 15,873 local families comprised of 44,466 individuals. Last year also saw a major change at the Pantry. Working with Food Pantry Network partner agencies, we reassessed our service area, discovered points of service duplication and reduced them. Service area adjustments allowed each of the food pantries in our network to better serve its core constituents. On January 1st, 2012, we reduced our service area from 28 Cook County zip codes to 12. Yet the number of clients served in 2012 decreased only 6% from 2011.
Each month, volunteers donate over 1400 hours of labor helping to feed their hungry neighbors. The value of that donated labor last fiscal year was over $150,000!
Pantry partnerships with other local agencies are strong and growing. The Pantry collaborates with Prevail for the services of a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member (Mike Kelly) who serves as Resource Coordinator for both organizations. For the Pantry, Mike recruits vendors to donate fresh, but not perfect produce and other products. For Prevail, Mike researches appropriate referral agencies for clients in need. For example if a client needs a new pair of glasses, Mike helps locate an organization to work with the client. A partnership with West Suburban PADS and AmeriCorps follows a similar pattern: two organizations share the expenses for one Service Learner (Kyle Vicens) who provides client services for both organizations. In this case, the collaboration has allowed the Pantry to help clients obtain government benefits such as SNAP (“food stamps”) and All Kids coverage.
In 2010, Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry moved from being a program of the Community of Congregations to a partner with them. Separate 501c3 status has been granted to the Pantry and it is registered with the state of Illinois as a recognized charitable organization. Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is staffed by a variety of full-time and part-time positions: an Executive Director (Michele Zurakowski), a Pantry Manager (Paula Berg), a Community Program Manager (Kristi Braun), an AmeriCorps member who serves as a Benefits Coordinator, a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member who serves as a Resource Gleaner, a Finance Specialist (Dawn Altman), a Development Assistant (Rita Kahn) and over 350 volunteers who donate their time each month.
Although we are sponsored in large part by the communities of Oak Park and River Forest, we serve clients from many surrounding communities within Cook County as well—12 zip codes in all. (Click on the SERVICES tab for a list of all communities within our service boundaries.) All clients must meet income guidelines and are limited to service once per month. Photo ID and proof of residency within our service boundaries are required for service.
We procure food from a number of sources.
- USDA commodities are provided monthly through the Illinois Emergency Food Assistance Program.
- Purchases through Greater Chicago Food Depository — GCFD at an average cost of forty cents per pound.
- Generous weekly donations of food from individuals, groups and congregations within the communities of Oak Park and River Forest.
- Larger food drives are organized by Vista 9 Girl Scouts in the Fall and local Postal Workers in the Spring.
- “Food Rescue” operations with local grocery stores of fresh, but not perfect, produce.
- Prevail, housed in the First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake Street, Oak Park, enter via parking lot on Kenilworth and proceed to basement. Hours 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Monday through Saturday.
- Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry partners with OPRF Community of Congregations involving faith-based communities in service to end hunger.
- Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a member agency of the Greater Chicago Food Depository
- Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a member of the Illinois Hunger Coalition
- Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a resident mission of First United Church of Oak Park
Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our philanthropic partners:
- Direct Hunger Relief program is supported by a grant form the S.L. Gimbel Foundation
- The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association
- The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation including the Future Philanthropist, Health and Legacy grants programs
- Kraft Foods “Feeding Possibilities”
- Greater Chicago Food Depository — GCFD
- George M. Eisenberg Foundation for Charities
- Rush University Medical Center “You Care”
- Darden Restuarants Foundation, Community Grants sponsored by Olive Garden Italian Restaurants in Schaumburg and North Riverside
- Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest Champion Grant program
- Lumity non-profit technology leadership award
- Manaaki Foundation
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ
- CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) Chicago Area (code 16079)
- The Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest
- Oak Park Women’s Guild
This website was made possible by a generous unrestricted gift to Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. Website design and development by Megan Coleman.