Food pantry recovering from oil spill damage

September 20, 2010 3:18:53 PM PDT
A southwest suburban food pantry is slowly recovering from the damage caused by the Romeoville oil spill.

The DuPage Township Food Pantry sustained losses of tens of thousands of dollars.

The food pantry is reopening in a temporary location on Tuesday after the Enbridge Energy pipeline oil spill forced it to evacuate.

The food pantry never missed a day of providing food for the needy in Bolingbrook and Romeoville, and it even opened a facility across the street from the original location. They will be at the temporary location for at least one month and are still in the need of donations.

One Bolingbrook resident says she lost her job and is having a difficult time making ends meet and keeping her home on just her husband's salary. She is thrilled the dupage county food pantry will reopen Tuesday . A pantry that has been helping her to feed her family.

"It supplements - it's not meant, obviously, to take care of your weekly groceries but it does help," said the resident.

The food pantry was forced to evacuate and leave everything following the Enbridge Energy pipeline leak that contaminated the pantry and the food.

"The refrigeration freezer, a warehouse to pick up donations, we closed there literally last Thursday and worked here on the weekend to get ready for our open on Tuesday," said Shirley Grzenia with the DuPage Township Food Pantry.

The food pantry, with the help of Enbridge, never missed a beat in feeding the needy following the oil leak.

"We helped them with a donation right away. We have been working with them to make sure that the very important services that they deliver are not interrupted," said Alan Roth of Enbridge Energy.

On Sunday, this warehouse was empty. Monday, volunteers were busy preparing for the pantry's temporary opening Tuesday where they will be giving food.

Last year, the pantry helped to feed 14,500 people. They give out food shopping bags every Tuesday and Thursday.

Mary Zapfel not only volunteers - she is also a client of the food pantry after losing her job.

"I lost my job last October and this has been a godsend," said Zapfel. "It's helped me out quite a bit with my food, my groceries - I have to buy less coming here."

The pantry hopes to move back to its original site after it has been cleaned out and is declared safe to return. Right now, their major concern is being able to get enough food to give out to the growing number of clients for Thanksgiving.

"We have hundreds of thousands of dollars that we had saved up worth of food to give away for Thanksgiving and every single week. We don't all give it away in the same week. It's all gone. So, we're starting at ground zero," said DuPage Township Supervisor Bill Mayer.

The Dupage Township Food Pantry client base is growing. Mayer said that more and more people from the middle class are losing their jobs and are in need of food.

They receive letters daily from thankful residents. One woman wrote that without the pantry, she would not have been able to feed her children.


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