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Updated: April 3, 2020

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread globally and throughout the United States, we are taking proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers and neighbors as we remain committed to serve our community. Northern Illinois Food Bank has been identified as an essential business as defined by Executive Order 2020-10 pertaining to COVID-19.  

The Food Bank is able to continue our operations and utilize our staff and volunteers to serve our neighbors to the best of our ability every day and especially during this crisis. As developments arise, we will continue to monitor the situation and act in accordance with state and local authorities, CDC recommendations, and guidance from the Feeding America network.

Our Phase Two Response

As we learned on March 31, Illinois’ Shelter In Place order was extended through April 30.  We had already been working on developing a Phase Two response plan to serve our neighbors through May 8. You can learn more about our initial response here, but below you can read what we have planned for the next six weeks.

  • Continue our regular delivery of nutritious food to our agencies, of which 93% remain open at this time, but may be distributing boxes or bags to avoid neighbors entering the pantry.
  • 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 1,000-1,100 boxes per week to our neighbors, including shelf-stable food, milk, meat and protein.
  • Our SNAP Outreach Team is fielding calls from our SNAP hotline and online requests 7 days a week and we estimate we are receiving 2-3 times the typical number of requests during this time. We will continue to be a resource to our neighbors in need and are looking into the possibility of additional staff or volunteers to provide the best service we can.
  • We have increased our typical distribution of 1,000 shelf-stable boxes monthly to our senior neighbors through our Senior Box Program to 1,500 to meet the increased need seen in our senior and homebound 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 are continuing our work with 19 child meal sites with an estimated 4,000 meals served daily. We are also investigating needs for additional emergency boxes.
  • We are planning to have up to 18 Mobile Pantry distributions per week that will serve 200 families each; totaling 3,500 boxes per week.
  • 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.


How to Get Help

At this time, the Food Bank’s 900 partner food pantries and programs largely remain open. Some are considering changes to their distribution models to enforce social distancing protocols (such as switching to a drive-thru model) or to days/times of distribution to better meet the needs of their communities.

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 also be found here.

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.

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 different state-wide and county specific resources available to help during this time.


How to Give Help


The economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to increase 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.

If you would like to make a donation by mail you may still send your gift to 273 Dearborn Court, Geneva, IL, 60134 as our office remains open. Please note that the deposits of checks and mailing of acknowledgement letters may be delayed during this time.

In order to protect the health and well-being of our staff and volunteers, and to keep the grocery stores stocked as much as possible during this time, we have suspended accepting community food donations to our Centers at this time. If you have food that you would still like to donate to our network, we encourage you to donate directly to your local pantry. Please visit our Pantry Locator to find your closest pantry and connect with them to see what needs they may have at this time.

Join our Foodie 5K

Our April 18th Foodie 5K presented by Kellogg’s has changed from Cantigny Park in Wheaton to a virtual event! We encourage anyone to register for this virtual event – you will still receive incentives for fundraising and a swag bag, complete with t-shirt (register by April 3rd) and finisher medal. Participants can still submit their time for award medals and use hashtag #foodie5k to share selfies as you participant in whichever location you choose. As of today the Libertyville Foodie 5K on June 6th is scheduled to proceed as planned. Visit www.SolveHungerToday.org/Foodie5k to register or donate to a participant.


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. The Food Bank will also provide all volunteers registered for a shift from March 23 to April 7 a letter stating their exemption status during the “Shelter in Place” order. If you have not received your letter, please email our Volunteer Team or call (630)443-6910.

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.


Our Initial (Phase One) Response

In early March the Food Bank formed a cross-functional COVID-19 response team to evaluate and address the needs of our community. We determined the level of disruption to our food pantry and feeding program network and all of our direct distribution programs and developed alternative solutions to continue to serve our neighbors in the best possible way.

Our Phase One response through March 31 included:

  • Distributing 1,000 shelf-stable boxes to seniors through our Senior Box Program
  • Served 410 households each week with food including shelf-stable goods, milk, meat and produce through our My Pantry Express program
  • Served 1,400 households in the first week at our Winnebago Community Market with drive-thru pick-ups of a shelf-stable box, milk, meat and protein
  • Provided nearly 4,000 meals each day at 19 child sites that are still open and distributed 2,200 shelf-stable boxes to 45 child site
  • Distributed food through 12 mobile pantry distributions with an average of 6,500 pounds of nutritious food
  • Sourced, packed and delivered 2,500 28-pound shelf-stable emergency boxes to our food pantries or other sites in need of additional food
  • Assisted 39 households with completing SNAP applications who were applying due to being impacted by COVID-19. Our SNAP online referrals grew from less than 3 a day at the beginning of March to 13-17 at the end of the month.
  • Continued our regular deliveries of nutritious food to our agencies, of which 90% remain open with modified distribution methods


Ongoing Hygiene Standards and Safety Protocol

Hygiene standards and safety protocol per the CDC continue to be in place at all Food Bank locations.

  • We have increased the frequency of our cleaning processes to sanitize common areas in all facilities.
  • All volunteers are required to wash hands prior to entering and exiting the warehouse.
  • As per our usual policy, we continue to request that all guests, volunteers, staff, and neighbors remain at home if they are feeling ill.
  • We are screening volunteers and guests for travel to high-risk countries upon entry to facilities.
  • We recommend everyone follow CDC guidelines to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.


Local Resources


Food Bank Contacts


Agency Closures