Already under stress, food pantries worry about keeping up with rise in demand

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BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. — With schools being closed across the state, local food pantries are struggling to take on the extra load.

Vernon Township Supervisor John Altenberg estimates about 600 households are usually participating in their food pantry. Now, the shelves are quickly going bare. 

“With kids being left at home and not having breakfast and lunch service, with seniors they can’t leave home we are expecting crowds,“ Altenberg said. “We are preparing for the worst.“

The run on food actually began over a month ago, when the Trump administration announced cuts to SNAP benefits would start April 1. The reality now is far graver, as they also try to feed all the kids who no longer have access to food at school.

“It’s compounding it in a couple different ways. Not only is there the fear of the virus itself but there is an incredible economic fallout. So we are preparing for both,” said Vernon Township Trustee Sheila Sebor.

Even as they get busy, crowds can no longer push their carts down the aisles in the food pantry. Starting Wednesday, all food will be brought out curbside.

Anyone in need from the township can pull up to the pantry this Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon, or Thursday from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., and have a couple bags brought to their car. Housebound seniors will be able to request delivery. 

“Two bags of groceries. Three for families. Brought out to the car so they don’t have contact with anyone,“ Altenberg said.

Today the pantry receives extra boxes of toilet paper From Northern Illinois Food Bank, a donation they say is desperately needed and appreciated.

“We’re thankful that we have a community in Vernon Township that is concerned looking after each other. As long as we’re able, we will be here for them.“The pantry is relying heavily on donations from the community to get through the next couple months, hoping neighbors that can and will help.

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