WOODRIDGE, Ill. - In 2016, 36,000 people were served by the West Community Pantry; of that number, 14,000 were children.
The pantry has a community partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and that partnership is helping make sure no family goes without.
Shelves are fully stocked and volunteers are ready to go as the West Suburban Community Pantry prepares to open its doors.
"The typical food order that we give is between 125 lbs. ad 135 lbs. of food. It's a substantial amount and they can come twice a month for that amount of food," said Laura Coyle, executive director of West Suburban Community Pantry.
The pantry works on what they call the "client choice" model. It helps ensure nothing goes to waste.
"We have just evolved over time to allow them to choose what they want. In many, many cases the people coming to the pantry and using some of our services will select to give back what they don't need because they want to be able to give it to another family who needs it," Coyle said.
Volunteers like Art Sheridan said it's the need of the community that makes him want to give back.
"You understand the people and people need to eat regardless of race, ethnicity or their religion. Everyone is entitled to food. The other part of it is the gratefulness of the people that come in," Sheridan said.
Grateful to have food on the table and for people volunteering at the pantry to lend a helping hand.
"They make you feel good coming here. It's been really helpful to make the difference, you know, putting stuff on the table. Everybody doesn't realize, you can be on the other end of the scale and you need help. People need help once in a while. I hope that someday I can volunteer here myself when I get back going," said Lawrence Miller.
You can give back to your community with a click of a button. ABC7 has partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Greater Chicago Food Depository for the "Share the Joy" virtual food drive. Click here for more information on how to participate.