WILLOWBROOK, Ill. (WLS) --A new food pantry is opening at a school in the southwestern suburbs, and for many students and their families, the timing couldn't be better.
This is only the second location to open inside a school in DuPage County, but the need here is great. In this area, one in five kids are at risk of going hungry.
At the brand-new food pantry inside Anne M. Jeans Elementary School in Willowbrook, shelves are stocked and freezers packed to help 300 area families have a happier Thanksgiving. The food pantry is handing out holiday meal boxes to the students here and their families.
"Today is a very exciting day many we will be handing out holiday meals to the family that attend this school. We are giving out turkeys, potatoes, stuffing, everything they need to prepare a complete holiday meal," said Debbie Baker, executive director, HCS Family Services.
Ellen Croce is giving back and volunteering now. But five years ago, she needed help when her 12-year-old noticed mom was missing meals.
"I would not eat. I would just tell her I wasn't hungry," Croce said.
"Seventy-seven percent of people who need our help have jobs, so these are people that need a little bit of help making ends meet and putting food on the table. We serve 13 counties across Northern Illinois, but here in DuPage County, there are 100,000 people annually that we know need more help," said Jennifer Nau, director of communications, Northern Illinois Food Bank.
"Food insecurity will slow our efforts and make our students not as willing to attend to their studies. Having the food pantry in our district and in our building, it magnifies, redoubles our efforts," said Supt. Tom Schneider, Community Consolidated School District 180.
The food pantry at the school will officially open Nov. 30 to all families with children attending schools in southeast DuPage County. The pantry will be open weekly for families with children attending any of the 25 schools in southeast DuPage County.
FOOD PANTRY LOCATION:
Anne M. Jeans Elementary School
16W631 91st St
Willowbrook, IL 60527