Hunger Resource Network distributes 120,000 pounds of chicken to help feed those in need

“Poultry to Pantries Day,” recently hosted by the Hunger Resource Network (HRN), is another important reminder that food insecurity has no boundaries.

It is the day when 120,000 pounds of frozen 10-pound packages of chicken are distributed to nearly 100 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters throughout the Chicago area to help lessen hunger in food insecure households.

Hunger Resource Network hosts “Poultry to Pantries Day” (formerly known as Community Outreach Day) events twice a year in the spring and fall. They are conducted at HRN’s headquarters in Northbrook.

“Each ½ pound of chicken equals one serving of healthy protein. Most of the chicken is served that evening or within a few days,” said Kerry Smith, director of development at HRN.

In fact, Hunger Resource Network has distributed over 4.5 million pounds of food to recipient agencies. In addition, HRN serves 160 local students who are on free or reduced school lunch programs with nutritious weekend meals and toiletries.

Food insecurity and hunger: A persistent U.S. challenge

“You do not have to go to a Third World country to see hunger. It is here! It is in our communities and in our neighborhoods today and it will continue to be here tomorrow, unless we choose to make a difference,” said Dan Jariabka, president, HRN, who founded the nonprofit organization with his wife, Linda.

The HRN website ( points out key facts about hunger in America:

• One in five children in the U.S. faces hunger. (Source: Feeding America, Hunger in America Study.”

• More than 49 million Americans live in food insecure households. (Source: Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C., ‘The State of Senior Hunger in America.”)

• 9% of all seniors are food insecure. (Source: Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C., ‘The State of Senior Hunger in America.’)

Millions of working Americans must choose between buying food and paying rent. Millions of seniors must choose between buying food and paying for medications.

During “Poultry to Pantries Day,” representatives of recipient organizations commented on the importance of HRN in helping to fight hunger among the communities they serve. They shared their thoughts and then headed back to their respective organizations to distribute the frozen chicken to their constituents.

We cannot serve our community without organizations like HRN

Melissa Luken, vice president, food operations, Loaves and Fishes Community Services, Naperville, which serves DuPage, Kendall, Kane and Will counties, said: “Each week, we are serving about 2,800 families, about 10,000 individuals and we picked up two pallets of frozen chicken (4,000 pounds, enough to provide the protein portion of meals for 8,000 people) which will go a very long way to serving our community. We are so grateful — you are a blessing, and we cannot do what we do without the help of Hunger Resource Network.” For information, visit

“Our food pantry is grateful to be included in the Hunger Resource Network chicken distribution every year. Chicken is a wonderful source of protein, and our clients really appreciate it when we can offer it to them,” said Debra Walusiak, executive director, Self-Help Closet & Pantry, Des Plaines.

Dave Kosar, a volunteer at the Self-Help Closet and Pantry, said: “We serve residents of Des Plaines and a portion of Rosemont where students attend Des Plaines schools. The frozen chicken is distributed to families in need, who come to the pantry. We received one full pallet of 2,000 pounds of frozen chicken that will last a few months and we want to say thank you very much for helping to feed our families.” For information, visit

Supporting communities where poverty can be hidden

New Trier Township Food Pantry serves Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Glencoe about half of Northfield, and portions of Glenview.

Brian Leverenz, food pantry manager, who coordinated the frozen chicken pickup, said, “Normally, we must buy these products but with the HRN chicken donation we can acquire other needed items for the pantry.”

He added, “We are serving wealthy communities where poverty is more well-hidden. We have about 250-275 visitors a month to our pantry and the need is there. We count on HRN every year.”

New Trier Township is “consistently ranked among the wealthiest areas in the United States,” according to its website. Adversity, however, knows no boundaries.

“Our clients face job loss, devastating illness, divorce, underemployment or other unforeseen life circumstances that prompt them to seek our assistance.,” said Leverenz. For information, visit

Keep the chicken coming — more is better

Jeff Griggs, a volunteer, picked up and delivered one pallet (2,000 pounds) of frozen chicken for Mission of Our Lady of the Angels on Chicago’s west side.

“It is a food pantry and outreach in West Humboldt run by the order of nuns serving about 4,400 individuals monthly on the west side for about 11 years. When I deliver the chicken to the food pantry it will be unloaded and distributed in about one hour. It is all very respectful and orderly,” Griggs said.

He added, “we serve one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. Thank you, Hunger Resource Network, please keep the chicken coming- more is better.” For information,

Annual fundraising luncheon: Meet “The Food Guy”

Community residents are invited to save the date Wednesday, May 8, to attend HRN’s annual luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Chevy Chase Country Club, in Wheeling.

The keynote speaker will be Steve Dolinsky, known as “The Food Guy,” who will be talking about food insecurity and the importance of being involved in your own community.

He is a television, radio, print, and podcast food and travel reporter. Dolinsky has reported in the “Hungry Hound” segment on ABC 7 Chicago from 2003 to 2021 and as “The Food Guy” on NBC 5 Chicago from 2021 to present.

Tickets are $60 each and sponsorships are available. For information, visit:

Learn more about Hunger Resource Network

HRN is a 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to working in partnership with corporations and individuals who share a commitment to feed the hungry. Its mission is to aid in the alleviation of hunger by helping meet the needs of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.

There are dozens of businesses and foundations who are HRN benefactors. To learn more, visit

For information or to volunteer, contact HRN at (847) 272-1700 or go to

To donate, visit

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