Food pantry donations keep up with rising demand

By on December 12, 2008

by Martha Quetsch

            The number of families served by the Elburn and Countryside Food Pantry has risen dramatically, but thanks to an increase in food donations, the pantry is keeping up with demand, said its president, Rita Burnham.

            The food pantry has served about 45 families weekly for the past few months, compared to 20 families each week during the same period last year, Burnham said.

            Typically, community members donate enough food to keep the pantry’s shelves stocked; but this summer, the pantry had to buy food from Aldi and other stores to keep up with rising demand, Burnham said.

            Burnham said she was worried that the pantry would have to start decreasing the amount of food it gives each family.

            “We were concerned, come January, about ‘How are we going to stretch this?’” Burnham said.

            However, the pantry now is well stocked, thanks to increasing donations from the community, including dozens of turkeys from the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club before Thanksgiving.

            “We are fortunate that so many people came forward,” Burhman said. “Right now, we’re set for quite awhile.”

            While Burnham was at the food pantry one day last week, she was amazed at the amount of items being dropped off.

            “The food just kept coming in,” she said.

            Food pantries throughout the area are serving more families than ever, Northern Illinois Food Bank director H. Dennis Smith said.

            The food bank, based in St. Charles, supplies pantries in several counties with low-priced food.

            In October, the number of people availing themselves of food pantries in Kane, DuPage and DeKalb counties was 29 percent higher than during the same month last year, Smith said.

            Smith attributes this increase to rising unemployment and grocery costs.

            In the three counties, food prices have risen 14 percent in the last three years and are projected to go up an additional 5 percent next year; and unemployment rose from 4.8 percent in 2007 to 6.4 percent in 2008, Smith said.

Elburn & Countryside Food Pantry

Elburn and Countryside Community Center

525 N. Main St., Elburn

(630) 365-6655

Food is given away at the pantry

from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays,

except on holidays

(then it is given the Tuesday before.)

Donations are accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays; call ahead to

make sure building manager is there.