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Updated July 10, 2020

Our COVID-19 Response

The Food Bank is committed to continuing our operations and utilizing our staff, volunteers and agency network to serve our neighbors to the best of our ability every day and especially during this crisis. The Food Bank has been responding to the increased need in our communities since mid-March. You can learn more about our response outlined below and our May results.

Here are recent updates to our COVID-19 response, our challenges and our wins.

Increased Need and Response:

In June we provided over 9M meals to our neighbors in need! This is an increase of about 50% from June 2019.

To date we have granted out over $600k to our agency network to support their COVID-19 response. We will be providing additional funding in the upcoming six months.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP):

USDA Farmers to Families Food Boxes began arriving at our Centers on May 15th and the first phase ended June 30th. In that phase we were receiving up to 80 truckloads of produce, protein and dairy a week. The second phase runs from July to August and we anticipate receiving 12M pounds of food in that time frame.

The amount of produce we are receiving in this phase versus last phase has been reduced by more than 50% and we are investing time and resources to source additional produce to meet the demand.

The Food Bank is distributing these CFAP boxes to our agency network and through our direct-distribution programs such as mobile pantries, pop-up markets, My Pantry Express and Winnebago Community Market.

Pop-Up Markets:

We have increased our pop-up markets from once a week to 3-4 weekly as an extra distribution channel for CFAP boxes. These markets are planned on very short notice due the changing nature of our world right now and we are challenged with our outreach to ensure neighbors in need know where they can receive food. Information on upcoming pop-ups is available on our website here, on social media and on our voicemail message at (630)443-6910 ext. 225.

Food Bank Team and Center Safety:

Beginning July 8, Northern Illinois Food Bank is asking all staff and volunteers to comply with the Chicago Department of Public Health Emergency Travel Order issued on July 2nd. Anyone traveling to the states identified by the order as a hot spot will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. Our Volunteer and Visitor Health Statement has been updated to reflect this change. All volunteers and visitors to any of the Food Bank’s Centers or distribution sites are still required to take their temperature prior to arrival. If temperature screens at or above 100.4, they are required to stay home.

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How to Get Help

Find a Pantry or Distribution

If you or someone you know needs food, you can find your nearest food pantry or program here. We strongly recommend calling before you go to confirm distribution dates/times. At the bottom of this page is a list of agency closures which will be updated regularly.

A list of upcoming mobile pantry distributions can be found here.

For the communities of DeKalb, North Chicago and Rockford, you may order groceries online to pick-up at a specified location and time through My Pantry Express.

Pop-Up Markets

We are constantly adding Pop-Up Market locations throughout our service area. To see if there is one coming to a town near you, visit our Pop-Up Market Calendar and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates about upcoming distributions.

SNAP

Our SNAP Outreach team is available and continues to assist with SNAP (food stamp) applications and can answer questions in regards to other resources or locating a pantry. Fill out our SNAP Contact Form, or call our hotline at 844-600-7627 to talk with a member of our team or leave a message and a team member will call you back ASAP. 

  • Note: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed on March 18th. If you are currently an ABAWD living in Cook or DuPage Counties, you will not be subject to work requirements to receive SNAP benefits while the state of emergency is in place. If you have questions regarding your case, please contact your DHS office or our SNAP Team at 844-600-7627.

Other Resources

We know visiting a pantry or seeking help can be difficult when you don’t know what to expect. Read about the Myths and Facts about the charitable food network.

Food is just one of many challenges our neighbors are facing. With that in mind, we have developed the Northern Illinois COVID-19 Resource Guide. It has listings of county-specific and statewide resources available during this time.

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How to Give Help

Donate

The economic impact of COVID-19 is drastically increasing rates of food insecurity in our community. Closures of businesses and schools, social distancing, and self-quarantines may affect many of our neighbors, particularly the most vulnerable: older adults, health-compromised individuals, and hourly workers.

While all support is greatly appreciated, financial donations of any size will help support the Food Bank’s operations during this time of increased need. Every $1 donated helps provide $8 in groceries for our neighbors. Make a gift online now, or mail your gift to 273 Dearborn Court, Geneva, IL, 60134. Please note that deposits of checks and mailing of acknowledgement letters may be delayed.

We would like to recognize the corporate and foundation donors who have donated $7,500+ to our COVID-19 response between March and May 2020–see the list here. Many thanks also to the generous donors who contributed to, and the community organizations that are managing various COVID-19 Response Funds. We are all in this together!

Community Food Donations

In order to protect the health and well-being of our staff and volunteers, and to help keep grocery stores stocked as much as possible, we have suspended community food donations to our Centers at this time. Instead, we encourage you to find your nearest pantry here, and contact them directly to inquire about their food needs.

Volunteer

Northern Illinois Food Bank has been identified as an essential business and is able to continue our operations during the “Shelter in Place” order for Illinois. Our volunteer workforce is also exempt from this order and are more important than ever to help pack and distribute food.

The Food Bank has made modifications to our shifts at all of our Centers to ensure we are following the CDC recommendations and practice social distancing. All volunteers beginning on March 23rd will be asked to sign our Volunteer & Visitor Health Statement upon arrival to our Center or at an offsite distribution. We are requiring all volunteers bring and wear a mask when volunteering at a Center or distribution site. If needed the Food Bank is providing cloth masks.

Update July 8th: Effective today, Northern Illinois Food Bank is asking all staff and volunteers to comply with the Chicago Department of Public Health Emergency Travel Order issued on July 2nd. Anyone traveling to the states identified by the order as a hot spot will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. All volunteers and visitors to a Food Bank Center or distribution site are still required to take their temperature prior to arrival. If temperature screens at 100.4 or higher they are required to stay home.

We have modified the maximum number of volunteers we can accommodate per shift to ensure we can practice social distancing. You may view openings on our calendar or join our wait list, as we anticipate having a greater need for volunteers in the coming weeks and months as we continue our response to this crisis. In the meantime, our agency network needs volunteer support as well. We encourage you to search by zip code and contact the location directly to inquire about available volunteer opportunities.

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COVID-19 Response Continues:

  • View May monthly distribution results here.
  • Continuing our regular delivery of nutritious food to our agencies, 97% of which remain open at this time. To support our network of food pantries and other feeding programs, we are distributing $500,000 in funding to our network as food credits and grants.
  • Serve our agencies that are unable to source and pack boxes for distribution by providing 2,500 shelf-stable emergency boxes a week. We will prioritize distribution of these boxes to identified areas of high need based on pantry closures.
  • Our Winnebago Community Market team in Rockford will provide more than 1,300 boxes per week to our neighbors, including shelf-stable food, milk, meat and protein.
  • Our SNAP Outreach Team of 10 staff and volunteers is fielding calls from our SNAP hotline and online requests 6 days a week. We are expanding our team by 50% to add additional support on evenings and weekends.
  • We have increased our typical distribution of 1,000 shelf-stable boxes monthly to our senior neighbors through our Senior Box Program to 1,350 to meet the increased need seen in our senior and home-bound populations.
  • We are expanding the My Pantry Express program by adding distribution times and locations, and are planning to provide 1,200 boxes per week of shelf-stable product as well as milk, meat and protein.
  • We launched Pop-Up Markets in April to distribute additional food to neighbors in need in a drive-thru format and anticipate serving 2,000-4,000 families weekly.
  • We are continuing our work with 19 child meal sites with an estimated 4,000 meals served daily. We are also distributing 1,400 emergency boxes to other sites weekly.
  • We are planning to have up to 18 Mobile Pantry distributions per week that will serve 200-500 families each.
  • We have formed an Emergency Food Team to help identify the most efficient strategies around food sourcing and distribution to our neighbors in need. Despite challenges across the supply chain, this team remains focused on investigating every possible solution to meet the rising demand across our communities.
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Local Resources

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Food Bank Contacts

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Agency Closures