Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry holds first Kids' Pop-Up event

  • The Rev. Kyle Dern, right, outreach pastor at Calvary Church of Naperville, is among the volunteers loading patrons' vehicles during an Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry kid's pop-up food distribution on Jan. 16 at Simmons Park in Aurora.

    The Rev. Kyle Dern, right, outreach pastor at Calvary Church of Naperville, is among the volunteers loading patrons' vehicles during an Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry kid's pop-up food distribution on Jan. 16 at Simmons Park in Aurora. Courtesy of Al Benson

 
 
Posted1/25/2021 9:20 AM

The Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry held its first Kids' Pop-Up food distribution event on Jan. 16. Around 130 drivers passed through Simmons Park on Aurora's east side during the two-hour window. The food pantry partnered with Calvary Church of Naperville and the Fox Valley Park District.

A crew of nine people -- made up of volunteers, pantry and church staff -- worked the event. Items handed out included peanut butter and jelly, cereal, oranges, pancake mix, applesauce, canned fruit, juice boxes and hand sanitizer.

 

Becky Dunnigan, the pantry's community outreach and program coordinator, said they served more than 24,000 children in 2020. These pop-up pantries are specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of children.

"2020 has been a challenging year for Aurora food pantry as the number of families we are serving has quadrupled and sustained at that number throughout the year," Dunnigan said. "Providing for that many families takes volunteers and dollars. We are able to stretch $1 into $8 worth of food with monetary donations."

A volunteer directs traffic during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry's first drive-through Kids' Pop-Up food pantry at Simmons Park in Aurora on Jan. 16. About 130 drivers were served at the event.
A volunteer directs traffic during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry's first drive-through Kids' Pop-Up food pantry at Simmons Park in Aurora on Jan. 16. About 130 drivers were served at the event. - Courtesy of Al Benson

The pantry would like to expand the kid-focused event once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Future distributions could include larger food selection, school supplies, children's toiletries, socks, clothing accessories, on-site dental exams, fun games and photo opportunities with costumed characters.

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Dunnigan said many families don't know how to use the pantry or cannot get there on scheduled distribution days. At the pop up events, families receive information about the pantry and assistance that is available.

Volunteers load a vehicle during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry's first drive-through Kids' Pop-Up pantry at Simmons Park in Aurora.
Volunteers load a vehicle during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry's first drive-through Kids' Pop-Up pantry at Simmons Park in Aurora. - Courtesy of Al Benson

Currently, the pantry is looking for donations of canned protein such as tuna and chicken and pasta, pasta sauce and rice. Looking at the bigger picture, Dunnigan said a donated box truck would help keep its food program operating.

For more information, visit aurorafoodpantry.org.

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