Celebrating 10 Years of Impact

This is a very special column to write. This year, I’m celebrating 10 years as President and CEO
of Northern Illinois Food Bank! And I do mean celebrating. We’ve achieved so much together! When I started as leader, we were providing 50 million meals a year to neighbors needing help. This year, we’ll provide more than 80 million. Of course, our work is about more than just numbers. Thanks to a constant spirit of innovation, we now provide more access to nutritious food to more neighbors in more ways than ever.

I’m honored to have played a role in helping this organization grow and respond to meet the need. It is critical to note, I’m part of a team. Every Food Bank team member, every volunteer, and every donor here works together to make our mission possible. I am most proud of the collaboration I witness every day. We couldn’t do it without you. In fact, you may not know this, but I started at the Food Bank as a fundraiser. I knew then, and I know now, that the money we raise is vital to meeting the need. I see the difference you make every day, and I hear the gratitude from the neighbors we serve. They appreciate your kindness, and so do I!


Julie Yurko

President & CEO

It’s Time to Solve Summer Hunger, YOUR WAY!

Your goal for Solve Summer Hunger is simple: raise $242. Why $242? Because that is approximately the cost of providing nutritious lunches to a child all summer long. How? Start by picking your favorite hobby and commit to it harder than you ever have before. Do it on your own or with your family! If you love walking, pledge to walk 50 miles this summer. Got a green thumb? Commit to mowing 10 neighbors’ lawns. Ready to get outdoors? Vow to try a different activity every week of the summer, like kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing. Anything at all! It’s up to you.

Next, tell everyone you know about your personal challenge, and invite them to support you by donating to your fundraising page! You’ll be amazed at how much support you get for helping neighbors like Terri.
She’s a mom with growing kids to feed, and when schools are out and free school lunches are not available during the summer, it’s a big strain on her family budget. When she couldn’t afford to keep food on the table, she told us she “felt like a bad mother.” But Terri is a good and loving mother, doing her best. Like many of our neighbors in Northern Illinois, she just needed a little extra help. The kind of help that you’re going to give this summer! For more info, or to get started, contact: Elliot Baker at [email protected] or (630)-443-6910 ext. 210.

Terri and her family visit our Meals on the Move site in Aurora.

No Child Should Go Hungry

Juanito loves when summer meals from the Food Bank include tomatoes!

Summer is a great time to be a kid! But hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. Without access to school breakfasts and lunches, many families struggle to meet the additional cost of providing all those extra meals for their children. At Northern Illinois Food Bank, we believe no child should go hungry. Not during summer, not during any season of the year. That’s why, with your generous help, we are offering a range of innovative programs to meet the needs of families and children this summer!

You may see Food Bank vans at several parks in the Aurora area this summer. Our Meals on the Move program offers kids a healthy lunch right in the heart of their neighborhood. Last year we served over 4,000 summer lunches tis way. And once a week there’s an added opportunity to choose fresh produce to bring home. Our Friday Fresh Marts distributed more than 14,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables last summer! The kids enjoy the meals and playing in the park, and their families are very grateful for the help. Last summer, we met three-year-old Juanito and his mother Maria. Juanito smiled as he tasted a juicy grape tomato, and Maria told us: “The lunches are good – there’s protein, vegetables, fruit and milk. The kids love it and it’s good for them. Thank you so much!”

We also talked to Marisol, who was here with her three children including three-year-old Mateo and
his two school-age siblings. Marisol says: “Thank you for all you do and God bless you. Thank you
for giving the kids something to eat.”

But there are more kids who need help. It’s a big undertaking to reach so many children across our service area.

That’s why we are also working in partnership with 150 organizations caring for kids this summer including YMCAs, faith-based organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, community centers, and more. Our trucks are on the road delivering healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks to Freeport, Waukegan, Joliet and everywhere in between. We’re also grateful for the support of local farmers who share their bounty.

None of this would be possible without your generosity.

We hope you’re enjoying a great summer! Please consider a gift to help feed children like Quenton and Marion, who came to our summer program with their mom Angie and dad Phillip. Angie makes sure her children get healthy foods, so she really appreciates the assistance and the example you set. She says: “If you’re blessed, bless someone else. Share the blessing. Sharing closes the divide, and when you help others out, the little ones see that and they grow up to want to help, too.”

Phillip is grateful for the chance to bring his sons, Quenton and Marion, to get summer meals from the Food Bank.

Serving Seniors in Boone County

Rachel Vineiguerra and Cecilia Hernandez help provide food and
other resources to seniors at the Keen Age Center in Belvidere.

At Northern Illinois Food Bank, we work to get nutritious food to neighbors of all ages and areas; and rural counties are no exception.

Recently, we spoke with Cecilia Hernandez, a supervisor at the Keen Age Center in Belvidere, part of the Boone County Council on Aging, about the innovative programs that are helping older residents get the food support they need.

One challenge is that many seniors receive a minimum SNAP benefit of only $29. “That’s just not going to
make it for the month,” Cecelia says.

Debbie agrees. She’s 70 years old, and she’s grateful for the help keeping food on the table. She chuckles about her old eating habits, “I like the sweet stuff! But I’m eating better and this helps a lot. I like getting eggs, milk, potatoes, onions, and more, here.”

Another challenge is transportation, as many older residents don’t drive anymore and distances to grocery stores or food pantries in rural areas can be far. So, Cecilia and her colleagues have worked to make more food more accessible, including the use of Northern Illinois Food Bank mobile markets which bring food to the seniors who come to the Keen Age Center. For Debbie this has been a game
changer. “It’s helped me not worry about how to get out andget food, because I don’t drive.”

Cecilia celebrates the mobile markets for creating a vibrant community that helps seniors feel more connected. “Everyone is always just talking and chatting, and sometimes we get some unique foods, so we print up recipes for them. They love getting new ideas,” she says. Cecilia is very grateful for the partnership of Northern Illinois Food Bank. “It’s been great,” she told us. “We share the same values, and the same goals, and that includes helping each other and supporting our neighbors.”

Hunger Scramble Golf Outing




Join us for the 26th Annual Hunger Scramble Golf Outing, presented by Old Second National Bank, at White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville. This scramble-style outing has on-course tastings, giveaways, and
scenic views. Immediately following their round, golfers are invited to enjoy a reception for a delicious meal provided by award-winning Hell’s BBQ, an open bar, silent auction and raffle prizes. It’s a great way to help neighbors in need while enjoying a day at the links!






Tomorrow’s Harvest

Leaving a Legacy with Northern Illinois Food Bank

Dorothy Hoffner, 104, becomes the oldest person in the world to sky-dive on Oct. 1, 2023, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois. She’s with tandem jumper Derek Baxter. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Last year, Dorothy Hoffner became a worldwide phenomenon when she skydived at age 104.

But at Northern Illinois Food Bank, we remember Dorothy for different reasons. She was kind, caring, down to earth, and the oldest member of Tomorrow’s Harvest Society, our friends who include the Food Bank in their estate plans. Dorothy lived a rich and rewarding life, with a heart full of compassion. Her friend Joe Conant describes her as “a kind person and a good friend — someone who cared about the world.” He adds, “People and relationships were important to Dorothy, and she let people know they were important to her.”

So, it was no surprise to learn that Dorothy had included Northern Illinois Food Bank as a beneficiary of her estate. She was looking out for others in her will, just as she had looked out for others during her life.

The skydiving, however, was more of a shock. Joe was working as a caregiver at The Brookdale, a senior community in Chicago, when he first met Dorothy, and for five years they bonded over lively conversations and shared meals. When Joe told her he was going skydiving, Dorothy said she would like to join him. When she jumped for the first time, she was 99 years old! “She loved it,” Joe remembers. “Especially the descent and seeing the countryside.” Last year, at 104 years old, Dorothy skydived one last time. We’re waiting for confirmation from Guinness Book of World Records to learn if Dorothy was the oldest female skydiver, but she was certainly one of the oldest people to ever skydive! Dorothy’s spirit and generosity remind us that every one of us, at any age, can make a difference in the world. We’re proud of how Dorothy lived her life, and we’re deeply grateful for her generous gift.