Northern Illinois Food Bank's mobile pantry stops at school to help families

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Seventy percent of Will County households served by the Northern Illinois Food Bank are at or below the federal poverty level.

In response, the organization's Mobile Pantry recently set up their Mobile Pantry at Woodland Elementary School in Joliet to make sure families have the food they need, including cereal, meat and produce.

"The need is pretty high. The poverty level in Joliet is very high, to point that we provide all meals for our student at no charge. So when you have that high of a poverty level, the need have is great," said Theresa Rouse, superintendent of Joliet Public Schools District 86.

The Mobile Pantry provided a one-stop shop to get everything they need.

"The biggest challenge for us is getting the word out and making sure people know where the Mobile Pantry is going to be," said Hester Bury, director of corporate and foundation giving for the food bank. "The benefit of working with a schools is that families are familiar with coming to the school for activities, so we know we're reaching those families. It's convenient, it's easy for them."

Especially during the holidays, families appreciate the convenience.

"I think its's the most wonderful time for this to happen because I know about the juggling a lot my parents are having this time of year. So that part is such a blessing. I'm just so glad that they were able to come," said Woodland Principal Carol Paul.

"I have a family of seven ... I'm just appreciative of what I get. I thank God. We all appreciate it. I'm talking for everybody. I know everybody that's here is appreciating this," said Lisa Ulmer, a student's grandmother.

Last year, the Northern Illinois Food Bank dispatched more than 70 mobile pantries across Will County.

ABC7 has partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Northern Illinois Food Bank for the "Share the Joy" virtual food drive. To donate, click here.
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