Northern Illinois Food Bank truck drivers travel 755K miles a year
GENEVA, Ill. (WLS) -- They're up and on the job before sunrise with a mission to deliver nutritious food to their neighbors in need.
Marianne Nelson has been a food truck driver for 16 years.
"In by 5 a.m., loaded and ready to roll by 6 a.m., 6:15 a.m.," said Nelson.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva has a group of 28 truck drivers that go around delivering a precious cargo of much needed food.
"You see that need, that urgency in your pantries and in the people, if they don't get this today they go hungry," said Nelson. "That drives me. That really drives me."
Carl Koester has worked as a food bank truck driver for 10 years.
"It's difficult to go out and ask for food but the agencies do a wonderful job of providing that for the people who are in need.," said Koester.
Nelson and Koester and the food bank's other truck drivers are out every day, rain or shine, travelling 755,000 miles a year. That's equivalent to 30 trips around the world, or 270 times across the United States. But it's all worth it because the road travelled allows the food bank to feed 500,000 neighbors a month and provide 80 million meals a year.
"I think the biggest need that I saw through the years that I worked here was through the pandemic," said Nelson. "We worked our tails off to get the food out there. I think it kind of went down but it's right back there up again. Numbers at the pantries are very high. And we're feeding more than ever."
The need is so high that pantries are struggling to keep up.
"You know it's a big day for them when a delivery is made to know that they can put this food on the shelf because in the next day or two or even while I'm there, it's going right back out the door again," said Nelson,.
"We come in every day and we do our job and we go home to our families and we come back and do it again And there's a reason for that," said Koester.