Providing Access to Local Food Pantries – Updated


Updated 10/12/17 10:54 AM

For many of us going to the grocery store consists of these steps:

  • Get in our vehicle, drive a few miles to our preferred grocery store.
  • Grab a shopping cart on the way in to the store, shop, and then pay for the food while an employee bags the contents.
  • Push the shopping cart out to our vehicle, load, drive home and park next to our house, unload and put the items away.

So how would a trip to provide food for your family change if you didn’t have a vehicle? Or, what if you didn’t have the resources needed to purchase food? Either alternative would drastically change your trip to the grocery store. You might find yourself wondering about where to go for food, how to get it home, or even how to get there.

– Addressing Food Insecurity –

DeKalb County, IL Snapshot provided by Northern Illinois Food Bank

Food insecurity, the lack of access to nutritious food in sufficient quantities, is an issue for many residents in our county. According to a DeKalb County snapshot provided by Northern Illinois Food Bank, 14.4% (13,940) of residents in DeKalb County are food insecure and 18.6% (4,270) of children are food insecure.

Recently, the DeKalb County Food Security Council compiled data from a number of studies to explore options of improving food security in our community. Improving access to food pantries (proximity to public transportation routes), was identified as one such issue to address. Ideas to remedy this problem began to take shape and before too long, a few solutions rose to the top. One solution was to amend current bus routes to stop within 800 feet of food pantries. Another was to provide options for transporting food from a pantry to the kitchen table.

In the fall of 2016, the DeKalb County Food Security Council applied for a grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation to purchase collapsible shopping carts and reusable shopping bags. The carts and bags would allow patrons to more easily shop at food pantries both near and far, especially those who need to take public transportation. Since many rely on Voluntary Action Center (VAC) for transportation, the Food Security Council worked with VAC on shopping cart dimensions to ensure safety and proper aisle clearance on the buses.

– Responding to Needs & Opportunities –

Thanks to donor generosity to the Community Foundation, a $2,000 grant to the Food Security Council enabled the purchase of 54 collapsible shopping carts and 200 reusable shopping bags. Distribution of the carts and bags went to nine local pantries from Sandwich all the way to Kirkland.

In an effort to empower clients with ownership of his/her cart, the shopping carts are available for $15, or half the purchase cost. The money collected from clients goes towards the purchase of additional carts in the future. Understanding that some cannot pay the $15, shopping carts remain available under the discretion of the food pantry or VAC. Reusable shopping bags are free, provide durability during transportation, and are better for the environment by reducing the use of plastic bags.

“The DeKalb County food pantries meet once a month as part of the DeKalb County Food Security Council and as agency partners of Northern Illinois Food Bank,” said Barb Food Mart Director Sheryl Nakonechny. “Knowing we could make a difference in access to food pantries, we joined together to make positive change for the clients we serve. The response has been very positive and we know we’re making a difference! Thank you to the DeKalb County Community Foundation and their generous donors who made this grant possible.”

– Giving Where It’s Needed Most –

Grants like these to the Food Security Council become possible by way of donor support to Community Impact funds at the Community Foundation. These funds allows flexibility for the Foundation Board of Directors to respond to needs and opportunities throughout DeKalb County.

If ‘giving where it’s needed most’ inspires you, consider making a gift to an existing Community Impact fund or start one of your own. For questions or more information, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or


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