ROMEOVILLE, Ill. — The closing of a neighborhood grocery store has left some Romeoville families, without easy access to food. Determined to make sure children have nutritious meals before heading off to class, two local philanthropists stepped in to help.
Barbara Gulick and Ron McDaniel bringing a food pantry to Irene King Elementary School.
“We talked to a few different schools, some weren’t open to it,” Gulick said. “Had one meeting with the principal from this school and we knew we had the right school.”
Gulick, a board member with the West Suburban Community Pantry, said she reached out to friend and fellow philanthropist McDaniel to help with the pantry.
Together, they stocked the pantry like a neighborhood grocer. In an unused classroom, shelves are filled with canned goods and refrigerators are packed with fruits and vegetables. There is also a freezer filled with meat.
McDaniel said a hungry child in not prepared to learn.
“ … If you don’t care of shelter and food then you aren’t going to accomplish many other things,” he said.
Gulick said the idea of bringing the pantry to the school not only alleviates the need for transportation but also reaches people who may not feel comfortable asking for help.
It is their passion for children and personal investment that has made the pantry special. The Ron McDaniel Foundation is supporting the new endeavor along with money donated by Gulick personally.
The pantry is open every Thursday after school from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and available to families of students. They hope to expand in the future.