Northern Illinois Food Bank's My Pantry Express receives $750,000 national grant
The Northern Illinois Food Bank has received a $750,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support operations and future growth of its Chicago Innovation Award-winning online food pantry program, My Pantry Express.
Launched in early 2019, My Pantry Express offers private, online food shopping for neighbors in need with local pickup at convenient times and locations. The program aims to reach neighbors not currently accessing the charitable food network for a variety of reasons -- time constraints, transportation issues, stigma, or not knowing what to expect -- and create access to nutritious food in order to reduce the physical and emotional strain of food insecurity.
The Walmart Foundation grant will allow the program to expand through January 2022, beginning by developing new strategic MPX community partnerships, including most recently with People's Resource Center, one of the Food Bank's 900 pantries and feeding program in its network of 900 agency and pantry partners serving neighbors in 13 counties across northern Illinois.
Since its inception, My Pantry Express has provided more than 630,000 meals through nine weekly distributions in Lake, DeKalb and Winnebago counties, in partnership with schools as well as Walmart and Goodwill locations as pickup sites. The Food Bank hopes to grow the program to 12 weekly distributions in the next year, and over the course of the two-year grant period, the Food Bank aims to distribute three million additional meals.
Walmart Foundation selected My Pantry Express as one of 11 national grant recipients, recognizing the program's innovative approach to removing barriers to accessing healthy foods and therefore reaching new neighbors. A recent survey of MPX shoppers indicated that 54 percent of neighbors placing orders had either never used a food pantry before or had not used a pantry in the past year.
"This level of support from the Walmart Foundation is truly incredible and underscores their commitment to helping us solve hunger across Northern Illinois for years to come," said Julie Yurko, CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank. "This gift will have an undeniable impact in our ability to reach new neighbors in need through this program."
The survey also found 67 percent of shoppers reported being able to keep up with paying their bills on time and making fewer tough choices as a result of My Pantry Express. The Food Bank's goal is to create enough access to nutritious food that neighbors facing food insecurity are able to use their limited resources for other necessities.
The grant funding will be used to develop an inventory system, offset food, transportation and staffing costs, and enable the Food Bank to increase the number of distributions and meals served all while continually innovating on the distribution model and shopper experience.
"Access to healthy food builds the foundation for good health in communities, says Eileen Hyde, director of sustainable food systems and food access for Walmart.org. "Our goal is to improve people's ability to more consistently consume nutritious food. That involves connecting people to the food they need as well as building confidence in their choices. We're excited to support and learn from the Northern Illinois Food Bank's innovative approach to better serve and partner with their community."
To learn more about My Pantry Express and how to support the program or get involved, visit www.solvehungertoday.org/MPX.
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About Northern Illinois Food Bank
Northern Illinois Food Bank, a proud member of Feeding America, is a nonprofit organization that engages the community to solve hunger in Northern Illinois. Serving 13 counties and providing 69 million meals last year, Northern Illinois Food Bank is the largest food bank by distribution in Illinois. Manufacturers, local grocers, corporations, foundations, and individuals come together to donate food and funds, and evaluate and repack food for distribution to more than 900 partner feeding programs -- the food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and youth and senior feeding programs that serve more than half a million people every year. Northern Illinois Food Bank has centers in Geneva (West Suburban Center), Park City (North Suburban Center) Rockford (Northwest Center), and Joliet (South Suburban Center). Find out how you can volunteer, donate or get involved at www.SolveHungerToday.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 26 countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.