July 20, 2023 | NeighborsVolunteers

The Difference You Make

A Team Member’s Perspective

450,000 neighbors served monthly – thanks to leaders like Yvette, every experience is extraordinary!

Would you know how to explain the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

We know this can sound confusing, but it’s really quite easy to explain. Northern Illinois Food Bank supplies groceries to a network of 900 outlets across our 13-county service area, including soup kitchens, after-school programs, Backpack distributions, and more. But the majority of our neighbors access groceries through our network of about 400 agencies and food pantries. We recently spoke with one of our team members, Yvette Sellers, who shared her insight.

“Northern Illinois Food Bank is a lot like an actual bank,” she says. “Except instead of money, we obtain, process, and distribute the food that our network of food pantries provides for the neighbors who use their services.” Yvette continues, “Most food pantries serve their immediate neighborhoods. They are right in their own community, meeting the needs of their neighbors. The Food Bank helps keep the shelves stocked in those food pantries so no one has to go hungry.” We asked Yvette to tell us more about her work as our Agency Relations Area Leader for our Northwest counties. “I like to be able to help my community, and my community is not just where I live. It’s all five counties that I serve within my region.”

What does a typical workday look like for her?

Yvette laughs, “No two days are the same. I might be at a Mobile Market in the morning, and then doing administrative work in the afternoon, or visiting a partner agency. “It’s really inspiring and exciting to see the work they’re doing, and the enthusiasm of the agencies and the pantry directors and their volunteers. They are constantly innovating and sharing with other agencies about what they’re doing in their communities – ideas ranging from food safety to distribution schedules that work best for those we’re serving.” We asked Yvette if there was anything she’d like to say to our donors and volunteers. “It’s two simple words: Thank you! We see the difference you make every day for children, families, seniors and other neighbors, and we’re very grateful to you!”