3,000 families show up for drive-through food giveaway at Great America

  • Volunteers sort and prepare food for clients. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food to 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday.

      Volunteers sort and prepare food for clients. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food to 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Brenna Davidson of Wheaton reaches to grab more food during packing for a collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank to give away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday.

      Brenna Davidson of Wheaton reaches to grab more food during packing for a collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank to give away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Emma Chvatal of Lombard sorts and prepares food for packing. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday.

      Emma Chvatal of Lombard sorts and prepares food for packing. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Jackie Beegun of Buffalo Grove waves to clients as they leave with their vehicles filled with food. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday.

      Jackie Beegun of Buffalo Grove waves to clients as they leave with their vehicles filled with food. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Lorenzo Granado of Willowbrook carries a food to a waiting vehicle. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday.

      Lorenzo Granado of Willowbrook carries a food to a waiting vehicle. A collaboration between the Six Flags Great America theme park, the village of Gurnee and the Northern Illinois Food Bank gave away free food for 3,000 families in the theme park parking lot in Gurnee Saturday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/9/2020 5:37 PM

It looked like any normal weekend day as cars lined Grand Avenue in Gurnee with people waiting to get into Six Flags Great America.

The difference Saturday was that some 3,000 families were in those vehicles waiting to get food they needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Northern Illinois Food Bank hosted a free drive-through Pop-Up Market food distribution in the parking lot of the Great America theme park in Gurnee as part of its ongoing COVID-19 relief response.

More than 200 volunteers from Chicago-area communities came together to help distribute the food.

Food bank Communications Manager Elizabeth Gartman said that originally the agency had prepared four semitrailer trucks of food for distribution, but by 11 a.m. they had to bring in two more trucks full of food.

"The need has skyrocketed," said Gartman. "Up to 35% of our clients are new to us."

Each vehicle received a number of boxes that included fresh produce and dairy items.

Anyone in need of food assistance as a result of the crisis should visit the Food Bank's website to find a nearby food pantry and listing of upcoming mobile pantry distributions. People can also call the SNAP hotline at (844) 600-7627 to speak with a member of Northern Illinois Food Bank team directly.

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