At Neighborhood Food Pantries, residents 'shop' to feed their families with dignity

Kate Monteleone wants people who are struggling to put food on the table to know they are not alone.

The executive director of Neighborhood Food Pantries, with multiple locations in DuPage County, says it is all about giving a hand up while preserving clients' self-respect.

"Our goal is to be a reliable resource for people in need of food and to honor the dignity of each person," Monteleone said in an email.

Anyone in need of help to get by can "shop" the pantry shelves, saving a little extra cash to pay utilities, rent or anything else that may come up. Neighborhood Food Pantries teams up with various organizations, including area churches, to make sure their shelves are full. Not an easy thing to do since they are serving more people than ever before.

"We partner with Northern Illinois Food Bank and purchase much of our food from them," Monteleone said. "We also receive food donations from over 20 retail stores and many community organizations. Because of supply shortages, we are also exploring opportunities to purchase food from wholesalers.

"We provide fresh produce, frozen meats, dairy, eggs and shelf stable products for our 'guests' to choose. It is our commitment to guest choice and their ability to select what they need and want that affirms human dignity," she added.

To help make those purchases, Neighborhood Food Pantries is hosting its Shopping Cart Shuffle Saturday, June 24, in Hanover Park. Register at to take part in this 5K run/walk. If running isn't your thing, they are also looking for volunteers.

Monteleone talks about Neighborhood Food Pantries and the upcoming Shopping Cart Shuffle.

Q: What is Neighborhood Food Pantries? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.

A: Neighborhood Food Pantries is a nonprofit organization operating food pantries in DuPage County. Our mission is to be a reliable resource for nutritious food for people in need. Our pantries are located in Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Warrenville, Wayne and West Chicago.

Q: How many people per year do you serve?

A: We are on pace to serve almost 20,000 people this year - double the number served last year.

Q: What are some of your programs?

A: We specialize in meeting the food needs of our neighbors and refer those with other human service needs to partner organizations.

Q: Where do the majority of your funds come from to support your work and what are they used for?

A: Funds that support the food pantries come from private donations primarily. We were also fortunate to have received an American Rescue Plan Act grant from DuPage County.

The cost of food is our biggest expense, plus the expenses associated with acquiring and maintaining refrigeration equipment and the fleet of vehicles used to transport food.

Q: Tell us about the upcoming Shopping Cart Shuffle.

A: Shopping Cart Shuffle is our annual, family-friendly 5K that helps raise money to keep the pantries stocked and open to serve people in need of food.

The event is Saturday, June 24, at Mallard Lake Forest Preserve, Schick Road and Mallard Lane, Hanover Park. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. A free kids 100-yard dash for ages 10 and younger begins at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 5K run/walk at 8:30 a.m.

Registration is $40 per person and you can register at

Q: How can readers volunteer to help?

A: Each of our pantries has a need for volunteers for food distributions. People interested in volunteering can reach out to the pantry that is most convenient.

We also have needs for other types of volunteer skills like social media and graphic design. Email if you are interested in helping out.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Shopping Cart Shuffle can contact

Q: How can readers help if they can't volunteer for this event?

A: Anyone who wants to help the pantries but is unable to volunteer can make a gift online at

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: Neighborhood Food Pantries has been helping neighbors in need of food since 1999, and we have never experienced the sustained high demand that we have now. All donations, whether monetary or food, are greatly appreciated.

Student volunteer Michelle Mann leads a tour of one of Neighborhood Food Pantries' facilities. The organization has pantries in Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Warrenville, Wayne and West Chicago. Courtesy of Neighborhood Food Pantries
Volunteer Mike Donohoo stands next to one of the Neighborhood Food Pantries' delivery vans. The organization helps people shop with dignity from its pantry shelves. Courtesy of Neighborhood Food Pantries

Shopping Cart Shuffle

What: Sponsored by Neighborhood Food Pantries

When: Saturday, June 24. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. Kids 100-yard dash for ages 10 and younger begins at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 5K run/walk at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Mallard Lake Forest Preserve, Schick Road and Mallard Lane, Hanover Park

Cost: $40; free kids dash

For details or to register: <a href=""></a>

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