Why We Walk: Foodie 5K goes virtual this year, raising funds to help solve hunger in our communities

  • Volunteers pack fresh produce into bags during Northern Illinois Food Bank's first Pop-Up Market April 11. To support its efforts, the Food Bank will host is annual Foodie 5K virtually June 6.

    Volunteers pack fresh produce into bags during Northern Illinois Food Bank's first Pop-Up Market April 11. To support its efforts, the Food Bank will host is annual Foodie 5K virtually June 6. Courtesy of Northern Illinois Food Bank

 
 
Posted6/1/2020 6:00 AM

Since 1983, Northern Illinois Food Bank has led the community in solving hunger for neighbors in need across 13 counties through innovative programs and partnerships.

And its services have been needed more than ever during the COVID-19 shutdown.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Due to the pandemic, Northern Illinois Food Bank will be transforming its annual Foodie 5K, which was scheduled to take place June 6 at Independence Grove in Libertyville, into a virtual race.

Christine Fisher, Special Events and Promotions Manager with Northern Illinois Food Bank, talks about the organization and its upcoming event.

Q: What does the Northern Illinois Food Bank do for the community?

A: Northern Illinois Food Bank provides food to neighbors in need through a network of 900 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth and senior feeding programs, and has a number of other direct distribution programs to assist hungry neighbors (see below for more details).

The Food Bank acquires donated food directly from manufacturers and retailers through our Food Recovery and Direct Connect programs. Our Child Nutrition Programs, including the federal feeding programs CACFP and SFSP, provide nutritious meals to kids after school and during the summer, and our BackPack Program gives food-filled backpacks for weekend meals.

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Programs

Northern Illinois Food Bank volunteers help bag groceries for neighbors at a mobile pantry distribution in Wheaton on April 1. Help the Food Bank continue to feed people by joining the Foodie 5K virtually June 6.
Northern Illinois Food Bank volunteers help bag groceries for neighbors at a mobile pantry distribution in Wheaton on April 1. Help the Food Bank continue to feed people by joining the Foodie 5K virtually June 6. - Courtesy of Northern Illinois Food Bank

• The Food Bank has two Mobile Pantry trucks, which act as "traveling food pantries," to distribute perishable and nonperishable food directly to hungry neighbors each week in high-need communities where other food resources may not be readily available.

• To serve our seniors in need, we partner with local housing units for our Senior Food Program to provide monthly boxes of nonperishable food selected with the dietary needs of seniors in mind.

• Northern Illinois Food Bank's SNAP Outreach Team helps neighbors apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Every holiday season, we distribute Holiday Meal Boxes, complete with turkey and all the trimmings for a traditional meal.

• My Pantry Express, the Food Bank's online food pantry, offers private, online food shopping for neighbors in need with local pickup at convenient times and locations in DeKalb, Lake and Winnebago counties. The program aims to reach neighbors not currently accessing the charitable food network and reduce the physical and emotional strain of food insecurity.

• Winnebago Community Market (WCM) is the Food Bank's very own food pantry, located inside the Food Bank's Rockford Center. The WCM holds multiple distributions every week to serve the Rockford community.

Q: Who does the Northern Illinois Food Bank serve?

A: Northern Illinois Food Bank serves half a million annually across 13 counties of Northern Illinois, including Boone, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will and Winnebago counties.

A volunteer closes a filled emergency food box during a shift at Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva on April 6.
A volunteer closes a filled emergency food box during a shift at Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva on April 6. - Courtesy of Northern Illinois Food Bank

We know that 77% of our neighbors are working, but do not have enough to make ends meet and are faced with tough decisions about whether to put food on the table or pay for other necessities like utilities, gas, rent or medication.

Since mid-March, the Food Bank has seen a tremendous spike in need due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic -- as much as double to quadruple the normal level of need, depending on the program; with as much as 35% of neighbors coming to the Food Bank for help for the very first time.

Q: Tell us about your event. How does it work? Who can participate?

A: The Foodie 5K is an annual fundraising race, and this year it's going virtual!

Volunteers pack fresh produce into bags during Northern Illinois Food Bank's first Pop-Up Market in April. The Food Bank offers multiple programs to help people in need across 13 counties.
Volunteers pack fresh produce into bags during Northern Illinois Food Bank's first Pop-Up Market in April. The Food Bank offers multiple programs to help people in need across 13 counties. - Courtesy of Northern Illinois Food Bank

A virtual race works basically the same as an in-person event, except that 5K you run or walk can be done anywhere at any time. Participants will still receive their race packets with their exclusive Foodie 5K swag and goodies from our sponsors, and times can be submitted to be considered for a first-place medal.

On June 6, there also will be raffles, contests, giveaways and fundraising incentives. We will have 1 to 2 short videos and livestreaming from our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/northernilfoodbank.

While we can't be together in person, we can be together in spirit, showing the strength of our community and our passion to solve hunger.

Foodie 5K is a great race for anyone -- whether you are an avid runner, beginner or you're looking for a way to get out of the house with your family

Q: How can people sign up to participate?

Visit SolveHungerToday.org/Foodie5K to register or donate. Cost to register is $45, which comes with a swag bag with unique T-shirt, finisher medal and goodies from sponsors. Use promo code DailyHerald and get $10 off registration.

Q: How can readers help if they can't participate in the 5K?

A: If you can't participate in our 5K, please consider donating. You can donate to a specific person or team to help them reach their fundraising goal, or you can just donate to the event. If you cannot donate, please spread the word about our race.

Northern Illinois Food Bank Virtual Foodie 5K

What: To raise funds for the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which serves half a million annually across 13 counties

When: June 6

Where: Anywhere you can walk or run

Cost: $45, which comes with a swag bag with unique T-shirt, finisher medal and goodies from sponsors; use promo code DailyHerald and get $10 off registration.

Register or donate: SolveHungerToday.org/Foodie5K

About this series

Why we walk is a feature on organizations that do charity walks to raise funds and awareness for their causes. If your group is planning a walk -- real or virtual -- to raise money, let us know. Email kbecker@dailyherald.com.

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