In 1983, our founder, Sister Rosemarie Burian, had a vision of a community coming together to care for one another by providing food to those in need. Her dream is now a reality and it is our privilege to honor her passion for helping others by solving hunger in Northern Illinois. This is something we simply could not accomplish without the support of YOU – our donors, our volunteers, and the Food Bank team, for whom we are eternally grateful.
Last year alone, we provided nearly 66 million meals through our network of more than 900 food pantries, soup kitchens and programs. We opened our fourth distribution center in Joliet, the South Suburban Center, and are already better serving more than 75 of our agencies through direct food pickups. Our presence in and partnership with the Joliet community has engaged new and returning volunteers, who no longer have to travel to our headquarters in Geneva to give their time. The continued support of the community is very much appreciated and needed.
From longtime support of food donors to new relationships, capturing fresh and prepared foods to provide our programs with has helped serve our neighbors even better. We are the 20th of 200 Feeding America food banks to launch the Starbucks FoodShare program. Our team began rescuing food from 64 Starbucks locations overnight to ensure the quality food Starbucks offers their customers does not go to waste. The Food Bank is grateful to work with more than 350 retail partners, who are equally committed to solving hunger.
In 2017, we started a Senior Grocery Market twice per month, which has grown into the Winnebago Community Market with distributions serving upward of 350 households every week from our Northwest Center in Rockford. This growth in a high-need area highlights the work we are doing and our increased capacity as we provide direct-to-client service in order to ensure that no one is hungry in Northern Illinois.
In addition, we passed four audits this year, including three with the American Institute of Baking, International (AIB) and one with Feeding America. We received superior ratings with the AIB—which ensures food safety in our warehouses—allowing us to sustain the confidence of our food donors while promoting food safety for those we serve. And while we are in full compliance with Feeding America’s standards, we are grateful that in the few areas we could improve, the Food Bank team was anxious to do so. Knowing we are a best-in-class food bank is reassuring to our team and we hope to each of you as well. Every day, we strive to do better for our neighbors.
As we near our 2020 strategic plan goal – to provide every meal for every person, every day in our service area – we are growing for the future of our food bank and our community. Our continued resolve and commitment to our neighbors in our 13-county service area remains strong, and we could not serve near as many if not for your support. While the Food Bank started as a dream of one, the effort of many pushes us to serve our community today.
Thank you for being part of this journey and for making a difference—what YOU do matters to us, and to those we serve.
Click here to learn more in the FY2018 Annual Report.