Aurora pop-up food pantry feeds hundreds amid COVID-19 pandemic

'(We're) attempting to make sure that everybody has a meal, that no child goes to sleep hungry,' Mayor Irvin says
AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- The line of cars stretched as far as the eye could see Thursday morning, as countless families waited for free groceries in west suburban Aurora.

Mayor Richard Irvin said demand is growing in the city.

Hundreds upon hundreds of cars came as food was passed out. One family said it will give them a boost during this difficult time.

"Help us out a lot. She got her hours cut; I'm not working," Jeff Lockwood said. "He lost his job for the summer."

Kathern Thomas was emotional as she waited for her groceries.

"A lot of people need help, and they don't know where to go get it, so this is great," Thomas said.

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In Aurora, the city worked with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Quad County Urban League, the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry and others in providing free groceries for families with a pop-up food pantry Thursday.

"Sadly that need is growing substantially right now," said Julie Yurko, Northern Illinois Food Bank president and CEO. "There are 38 million Americans who have applied for unemployment."
Irvin said the food pantries have seen demand for food double and sometimes triple over the last two months, and traffic lines have been stretching for blocks during food distribution days.

"Today what we're doing as a community is attempting to make sure that everybody has a meal, that no child goes to sleep hungry," Irvin said.

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The site at Phillips Park allowed cars to drive through for pickup. Food pantry leaders said they could not do this without volunteers.

"Anybody that has a small group that wants to help do something, reach out to your local food pantry. They need you," Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry Director Diane Renner said.

The pop-up pantry was equipped with enough food for 800 families and planned to be open for two hours.

And the city hopes to hold another event like this again soon.
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