Northern Illinois Food Bank awards $454,000 in grants to 18 pantries

Eighteen food pantries, including nearly a dozen in the suburbs, will receive grants from the Northern Illinois Food Bank to help provide better access to food for neighbors in need.

The Geneva-based nonprofit awarded about $454,000 in grants to programs in seven Illinois counties for infrastructure improvements, such as new vehicle purchases, facility improvements and expansion and improved communications and technology.

Suburban grant recipients include: Avon Cares Food Pantry in Round Lake Park; Bensenville Wood Dale Food Pantry in Bensenville; Disciples Food Pantry in Villa Park; Food for Greater Elgin; HCS Family Services in Hinsdale; Holy Angels Food Pantry in Aurora; Loaves & Fishes Community Services in Naperville; Lombard/Villa Park Food Pantry; Rahmah Interfaith Food Pantry in Lake Villa; and St. Vincent DePaul Weekly Food Pantry in Downers Grove.

Michael Montgomery, executive director of Food for Greater Elgin, said the pantry received $95,000 that will be used to buy a new truck. He said the current one is old and spends a lot time in the repair shop.

"It was very much needed," Montgomery said. "We use our truck to pick up food from area grocery stores and food warehouses and to deliver food to area low-income housing complexes, so it will greatly help us in our work."

The food bank selected grant recipients based on community demographics and food insecurity, the organization's capacity and the pandemic's impact, said Jacqui Hebein, food bank director of agency relations.

"These grants are critical for reaching underserved individuals, especially people of color," Hebein said in a statement. "Our intention in providing these grants is to help our network improve and transform access, convenience and dignity so that our neighbors have the food and resources they need to thrive."

Collectively, the 18 organizations receiving grants provided 11.3 million meals last year.

The food bank provides grants on a quarterly basis through private donations and government funding. Its network spans 900 food pantries, soup kitchens and child and senior meal programs.

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