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Food Pantry Survives Record Visits This Summer

The New Lenox Township food pantry sought help earlier this summer to feed the growing number of families who needed help. But as kids start going back to school, the number of visits are expected to drop until the holiday season.

After getting a , the New Lenox Township food pantry is looking forward to the fall, when kids go back to school and a couple big food drives will replenish the shelves.

In June, the food pantry had 360 visits, the most ever for a single month, family services manager Kathie Johnson said. She sent out an email begging for cereal and other goods from the community and said she had a lot of response.

"The call for help worked to get us through the summer," Johnson said.

In 2009, the township's food pantry saw about 166 food pickups per month, and through July 2010, the visits went up to about 208 per month. This year, however, monthly visits have boomed to an average of 272 through July:

Month Jan. Feb. March April May June July # of visits 221 207 292 252 297 360 279

With kids heading back to school in the next week, Johnson anticipates a dip in visits, but admitted, "I don't know what to expect."

"But if we follow what's happened in the past, you have so many more kids getting hot lunches every day," she said. "We should be OK until the holiday season. It's not time to sound the alarm."

Although there were just four cans of ravioli left on the food pantry shelves Tuesday, Johnson said she was heading out to purchase more food. (The food pantry spends about $3,000 per month, though has dwindling reserves while relying heavily on donations.)

In addition to help from school cafeterias, a couple upcoming food drives will help the township food pantry through the fall. Johnson said has a community night this Friday at which there will be a food drive competition, and then the is having a drive Sept. 10.

traci September 04, 2011 at 12:54 AM
My children and I have gone above and beyond giving to the New Lenox food Pantry, as our family Christmas bonus. I will no longer do this. Donating at least 200.00 dollars in food for the previous 2 years. To have a lady tell me on the phone someone would have to stay late to meet me and "how much food do I have?" , so wrong!!!! Then when we as a family returned the following year, once again," how much did we have?" because someone would have to wait for use to get there after 4??? The lady behind the desk never even came out to greet use and said I remember you from last year " I will send you a thank you note", nothing!! Not that I was looking for one, but that was outright rude. We are all in hard times, lost my job after 15 years but appreciate what people do please, otherwise we will stop doing. We decided as a family this year with our Christmas bonus money went elsewhere...shame on you.
hlh September 04, 2011 at 05:24 AM
You do realize the people that work there are volunteers, not paid, right? While it doesn't sound like they worded things very nicely, it was kind of presumptuous to expect someone to stay late to meet you. I'm sure they asked 'how much are you donating' because it would be silly for someone to sit around waiting if you were bringing 3 cans of soup. You really expect them to remember you from a year ago? A one-time visit?? Do you realize how many people come through those doors (to donate, and to receive the donations)? Perhaps you should re-examine your motives for giving. Or perhaps you could volunteer your own time?

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