Need for meal deliveries growing in Lake County as pandemic rolls on
Lake County Community Action to Combat Hunger, a coalition of local organizations that delivers food to families who can't or shouldn't leave their homes due to COVID-19, is seeing an increasing need for its services.
Launched in May, the group through November has delivered 18,480 meals, said Barb Karacic, coordinator of the program known as CATCH. The deliveries represents 2,240 individuals in 650 families.
"We've been able to reach out to all parts of Lake County," Karacic said.
The effort involves more than three dozen organizations, health care and social service providers, nonprofit food vendors, faith centers and others that refer clients to the program. It's funded through federal CARES Act money distributed by Lake County.
CATCH complements food programs offered by the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Karacic said. Funding is provided to four vendors who supply the meals to families, who must be referred by social service agencies, townships or the 211 Lake County help system.
"We continue to accept families for food support, and over 200 of those families we helped with needed food support for more than two weeks," according to Karacic.
Along with meal deliveries, CATCH vendors provide "pop-up" services throughout the county, an area that is seeing huge growth.
This week, for example, BellaRu Catering is providing food for 2,500 families through pop-ups in Mundelein, Round Lake, Vernon Hills, Zion, Waukegan, Lake Villa, Lakemoor, Gurnee, Highland Park and Lake Forest, Karacic said.
Those pop-ups are separate from advertised events offered by Northern Illinois Food Bank and generally are advertised by word-of-mouth by the institutions sponsoring them.
That shows the need continues to grow, Karacic said.
CATCH was formed to fill a gap and then dissolve when the need disappears. But that doesn't seem to be likely soon.
"I expect it will go until March of next year," Karacic said. "It's rough out there."