The past year marked another standout year for Northern Illinois Food Bank. We continue to be a leading food bank nationwide, distributing more than 69 million meals to our neighbors in need. Many programs and strategies for which we have laid the foundation are flourishing, and we continue to look for new, inventive ways to ensure that we are providing every meal for every neighbor, every day. Our mission, to solve hunger by providing nutritious meals to those in need through innovative programs and partnerships, is thriving.
It’s thriving because of the support YOU offer to us. We are grateful for your unwavering commitment to helping us serve our neighbors in need, because we believe that together, we can serve every hungry neighbor. We also believe we can solve hunger in Northern Illinois together, and this year, we know that we are, in fact, doing just that.
June 2020 will mark the end of our current strategic plan developed in 2014. The plan focuses on increasing equity to access to meals for every neighbor in Northern Illinois. We’re excited to share that, together, with our extraordinary member agencies, we are achieving this in 91% of our communities, which exceeds our original goal. Needless to say, we are thrilled. And yet, there is still work to do! With one year left, and your amazing support, we’re striving to do even better, and are planning for what comes next. Hunger is an issue that doesn’t simply go away. It’s renewable and is constant. Someone will always need help, and we will be here to serve them.
This year was also a banner “one million meal” year for several programs. Our South Suburban Center in Joliet opened in May 2018, and in its first full year of operation, provided an additional million meals to our southernmost region. For the third year in a row, our SNAP team assisted neighbors in applying for assistance, which resulted in more than one million meals. Our Winnebago Community Market now operates as a permanent food pantry out of our Northwest Center in Rockford and has distributed more than one million meals. Finally, our Northwest Center also provided one million meals to our member agencies in our westernmost counties. We’re proud of every program, but it is wonderfully fun to celebrate the coveted one million meal club with our team!
We have continued to innovate with our most recent pilot, My Pantry Express. We believe that everyone should have access to healthy foods and have the ability to choose the foods they need, and this program was born of that belief. Launched in February of this year, My Pantry Express provides private, online, choice grocery shopping to our neighbors in need. With more than 5,000 orders fulfilled to date, these distributions are hosted in our communities struggling most with food insecurity, and alleviate the angst of our neighbors in asking for help.
The response to My Pantry Express has outpaced our expectations. Due to its tremendous growth, we are encouraged by the potential of this program and we have shared our pilot, findings and program evolution with the Feeding America network. In October, My Pantry Express won a Chicago Innovation Award, named as the People’s Choice. We certainly would not have received this honor without the continued dedication of each and every one of YOU. Learn more about the program at SolveHungerToday.org/MPX.
As the year comes to an end, we are saddened to share that our founder, Sister Rosemarie Burian, passed away this fall. Her continued involvement with the Food Bank, and the fact that she was able to see what her small dream evolved into, is heartwarming. Her vision of a community coming together to care for one another by providing food to those in need inspires and drives us every day. With that vision, and the support of you – our donors, volunteers, partners and the Food Bank team – we believe that the work we are doing together strengthens our community and celebrates the best of humanity. We simply cannot thank you enough.
View the full Annual Report.