Food pantries in demand over holiday

November 24, 2008 3:03:03 PM PST
Thanksgiving dinner is being transformed from a dream into reality for thousands thanks to the generosity of a Lake County couple.John and Bobbi Sfire opened the Faith Food Pantry in Zion 10 years ago. It's one of the biggest food pantries in the Midwest. While it's always busiest during the holidays, the pantry serves meals year round.

Last year it served about 62,000 people. This year, it will serve more than 110,000, the biggest spike it has ever seen. Organizers blame the economy.

About 2,400 turkeys, 25 hundred bags of potatoes, 9,000 pounds of onions and 8,000 pounds of bread, and 2,000 cakes and pies. Thanks to the Faith Food Pantry in Zion, thousands of needy families in lake county will eat well this thanksgiving. The effort is spearheaded by a successful businessman from North Barrington John Sfire.

"We just really want to give something back, God has blessed our lives, my son is in there, wife, grandchildren, it's become a family affair for us," said Sfire.

The pantry operates year round. When it opened in 1998, it served 30 to 40 families a week. Now, it serves more than *800* families a week. During the holidays, more than three thousand families come here for food. It takes about two hundred thousand dollars a year to keep all the food coming in. The government buys about 6 percent of it. The Sfires come up with the rest.

"We raise it with donations, we send out a letter twice a year. If we are short my family writes a check," said Sfire.

Sfire and his family recruited an army of volunteers, including 250 seniors from Zion Benton High School. The volunteers work for free so all money can be used to buy food. They say they wouldn't have it any other way

Thanksgiving, the best time of the year, giving to the people. We're always going to be here, we're not going anywhere," said Glenn glover, volunteer.

Robert and Helen Taylor have been say they are especially grateful for the pantry during the holidays.

"It's very helpful, cause when you're living on a pension, it don't go far," said Helen Taylor.

"And it's a blessing to get these turkeys. The economy is hard, food is going up and I'm grateful for the food pantry," said Claudia Johnson.

The tough economy has been hard on food pantries around the county that rely on donations, but the faith food pantry in Zion is going strong. They are always looking for volunteers and donations, just call 847-438-5000.

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