Updated June 22, 2020
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:
Feeding America has released projections to the increase in food insecurity we could see in the upcoming year due to the impact health and economic impact of COVID-19. For our 13-county service area this could be a 70% increase in food insecure neighbors – resulting in an additional 200,000 people. Our community could be facing 1 in 5 children not knowing where their next meal is coming from, a reality we saw at the height of the recession.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Food Bank provided an average of 190k meals a day, with our current distribution response we are providing more than 243k meals daily to our neighbors in need.
We announced a second $250k round of funding to our agency network as they face the increased need. Agencies may apply for a grant up to $10,000 to support their COVID-19 response.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP):
USDA Farmers to Families Food Boxes began arriving at our Centers on May 18th and will continue through December. We anticipate receiving as much as 10M pounds a month of this nutritious and highly desired produce, protein and dairy in pre-packed boxes.
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.
This influx of food is helping address the food supply disruption we continue to see but does bring its own logistical challenges. In the first week of June we anticipate over 80 truckloads of boxes to be delivered! Our goal is to have 65% of this food delivered by our trucks and the other 35% delivered directly to a distribution by the USDA vendor but currently the Food Bank is handling nearly all the distribution.
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 May 18, all volunteers and visitors to any of the Food Bank’s Centers or distribution sites are required to take their temperature prior to arrival. If temperature screens at or above 100.4, they are required to stay home. Upon arrival, volunteers will sign our Volunteer and Visitor Health Statement.
On May 13th, Northern Illinois Food Bank issued a statement upon learning of team members who tested positive for COVID-19. As we operate through this pandemic the Food Bank will continue to work under the advice and recommendations from medical experts, health department and the CDC.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 May 18th: Effective today, all volunteers and visitors to a Food Bank Center or distribution site are 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.