Business is so good at the FISH Food Pantry in Carpentersville that volunteers will have Wednesday evening hours beginning in April.
Besides being open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m., the pantry, located in the Meadowdale Shopping Center, will be open from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday.
The extra hours are needed because there are people who have found jobs, but they pay only minimum wage, said Mary Graziano, the pantry's president. After paying their bills, they don't have enough food to feed their families.
The starting date has not been determined, but it is likely to be as crowded as the daytime hours, she said.
Every month, pantry volunteers give food to an average of 425 families who live in Dundee Township and portions of Gilberts. Considering the average family has five to six members, more than 1,000 people a month benefit from the food and monetary donations pantry volunteers receive.
With the help of recent food drives at local schools and churches, volunteers have been able to meet the demand, but they are receiving the basics for a couple of dinners.
"We will not be giving out hams for Easter this year," Graziano said. "People have already started asking for them because they are preparing for their Easter dinners. We just can't afford it this year."
FISH volunteers could pay the Northern Illinois Food Bank $3 for a 2-pound ham, but they would not feed a 5-member family.
"A 2-pound ham doesn't go far. We would have to give two hams to each family," she said. "We cannot afford that."
If history repeats itself, residents will donate a dozen or so hams before Easter, and they will be distributed as soon as they are received, she said.
"In the last couple weeks, we have been holding our own, and we have been able to meet the demand," Graziano said. "The extended Wednesday hours will put more pressure on us, but the community has always come through. We'll have the annual food drive the (U.S.) postal workers in May, and that will definitely help us out."
For information about the pantry and its extended hours, call (847) 428-4357.