How the Glen Ellyn Food Bank is helping to save lives of thousands

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Kevin Ashley, Staff Writer

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The Glen Ellyn food pantry to be put to the test they had to also their entire method of serving people in order to minimize the spread of the virus.

In 1979 the food pantry was first opened by the youth group of the Grace Lutheran Church. This pantry quickly grew as they wanted to help more and more people in some of their darkest times. They branched out and looked for volunteers and employees in order to improve upon their ability to help people. In order to help keep families fed. 

As of today, the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry has helped over 32,000 individuals from its conception get good meals and is available to help 11 separate towns (Addison, Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Lisle, Warrenville, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield).

COVID-19 and the subsequent job losses incurred by the lockdowns have left millions of Americans without work and barely staying above water. These events have obviously affected DuPage county as well and the towns that are served by the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry are relying on it more than ever. 

“It [COVID-19] has changed every single thing that we do,”  said the manager of food pantry services, Terri Venzon. “We had to put in place every procedure differently in order to keep serving our clients in a safe environment.” 

Instead of allowing people in the building to browse, now individuals who want food from the pantry must first set up an appointment and choose the items they need online or by phone. Then those needing the food can come to a curb-side pick to collect the food. 

Rich Wloszek, who is in charge of stocking the food pantry, said even as there is more need for food, the pandemic has made it harder to stock the pantry.

“Acquiring food is a lot different now than in the past,” Wloszek said.  “We had to discontinue our food recovery operation, which was bringing in between 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of food every week from our grocer patterns for several months. We were supplying clients with purchased food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank and local donation.” 

The Glen Ellyn Food Pantry was hit hard by the pandemic but has managed to restore some limited access to their old partners and by doing so they have managed to restock on items they couldn’t get through other means. 

“It is kinda more of a balancing act now than it was before. We find ourselves scrambling for food now, but we always manage to get enough. It’s just that it is coming from different places in different ways” says Wloszek.

The food drives hosted by the Glen Ellyn Food Bank have been very successful.  People in all 11 townships donate what they can to help people in need. Many different organizations, whether they are managed by the food bank or are completely independent, just show up with bags of food. Venzon and Wloszek believe that  Seeing the community come together in this way is incredibly heartwarming as everyone is trying to get through this crisis together.

If you would like to help the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry you can go to their website here https://www.glenellynfoodpantry.org/ or call their number at 630-469-8668. If you want to specifically help with the food the pantry is low on go to the link here https://www.glenellynfoodpantry.org/food-donations/