Reusable Bags for Beyond Hunger Food Bank

There is an app for just about everything nowadays! Thanks to one in particular, a local food bank was able to continue serving their community with kindness and dignity!

About Beyond Hunger

Beyond Hunger which serves over 350 residents a week, provides hunger relief to 12 zip codes around Oak Park, Illinois Not only do they provide food, but extensive community outreach and education programs are part of everyday operations.

  • A nutritionist develops recipes using the ingredients provided by the food pantry.
  • Cooking classes are available with nutritionists to teach the recipes and cooking skills. Separately, individuals can consult with the nutritionists.
  • There are nurses available from a local clinic that accepts Medicare to connect with clients as well as perform basic checks like taking blood pressure.
  • A meal developed by dieticians is available.
  • Diapers are provided.
  • Personal shoppers are available to assist those with disabilities.
  • Delivery is available to those that are homebound.

The pantry employs a client-choice model of service, which means they get to ‘shop’ in a grocery store-like environment. There is an extensive amount of fresh produce. The food bank also receives unused food from local schools and hospitals, which is packaged and given to them each day.

Answering the Call

Social Media Manager Julie Merar noticed that a message went out on her neighborhood app, Nextdoor, from a resident in her area. The resident said that their sister was a volunteer at Beyond Hunger and that she was asking for people’s leftover bags and old luggage to be donated. Many of the residents that the food bank serves are homeless and do not have bags for the food they receive. As a result, they can only take what they can carry.

Julie was able to join forces with Random Acts to provide 400 reusable grocery bags to the food pantry! These bags were integral for three reasons:

  • Every dollar the pantry doesn’t spend on purchasing bags for clients, they can reallocate towards purchasing food from their partners.
  • When clients bring their own bags, they get extra food.
  • The food pantry is trying to reduce the amount of plastic bags they are using.

When Julie delivered the bags to the Food Pantry, her contact Kathi gave her a tour of the food bank. Volunteers like Kathi(who has been with Oak Park River Forest Food Bank for upwards of 11 years) and others from the community come together to make the pantry run like a well-oiled machine! Staff and clients interacted casually and comfortably, without missing a beat. Julie said, “It’s obvious that an environment that supports dignity and respect for the clients has been created.”

To learn more about Beyond Hunger and to learn how you can contribute to their mission, please visit them online. Is there a local food bank in your area in need of assistance? Don’t hesitate to visit your local organizations and help them assist their clients!