Elgin Township, residents give money to food pantry

Food for Greater Elgin received a sizable grant from Elgin Township and donations from a group of senior residents, all of which is helping tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit said.

The $100,000 grant approved by the Elgin Township board Monday night will support two months of operations, Food for Greater Elgin Interim Executive Director Michael Montgomery said. "This is a tremendous gift that allows us to do our job."

The food pantry last month got a $150,000 emergency loan from the city of Elgin, repayable starting next year. The township grant does not need to be repaid. The food pantry also recently received a $25,000 grant from Safeway, $1,000 from Aldi and donations from two Rotary clubs in Elgin, Montgomery said.

The township grant came from the contingency fund of proceeds from the senior services property tax levy, Elgin Township Trustee Vern Tepe said. Although the food pantry is located just outside the township's boundaries, it serves a lot of people who reside in the township, Tepe said. The food pantry last month started to open on Fridays for seniors only.

Food for Greater Elgin initially asked for a $60,000 grant but the township's senior committee recommended increasing that to $100,000, and the township board agreed. Committee chairman Rich Jacobs said it was clear the food pantry needed help in providing essential services during the pandemic.

Tepe lives in the Edgewater by Del Webb senior community in Elgin, where he spearheaded the idea of further helping the food pantry with donations for homemade face masks.

The cotton and flannel masks are being sown by a group of Edgewater residents and distributed within the senior community for minium $5 donations to the food pantry. The initiative has distributed about 300 masks with orders for 150 more, and is expected to raise $4,000 to $5,000, Tepe said.

"There are over 1,000 homes, so about 2,000 people here. We are 55 and older, so we just want to take care of our community," said resident Nadine Amy of Edgewater's Crafty Needlers group. "I do see people when I'm out and they are wearing masks. I recognize most of them - either I made them or someone else in our group did."

Montgomery picked up an initial $2,000 check from the Edgewater residents on Friday. "It was really cool," he said.

Food for Greater Elgin expects to serve about 600 families per week, up from 500, as people begin to feel the financial effects of the "stay at home" order, Montgomery said. "We are continuing to build (more clients) a little more each week and we expect it to be continuing," he said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint."

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