The Maple/Morgan Park Community Food Pantry is currently evolving in several ways. Its needs have changed so quickly and in many ways.

Since the pantry shifted its services to the Client Choice model—per the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s updated compliance standards—currently 500-700 hungry families visit the food pantry each month. Client chooses a specific number of food and personal-care items based on their family size.

Each month, the pantry runs low on a variety of items. Because of this transition, additional food purchases and the day-laborers’ manpower are being incurred each month. These expenses have increased, as the pantry is now required to provide two weeks of emergency groceries to our community’s hungry families.

On Jan. 4, the food pantry’s operations shifted from giving clients one week of groceries to providing clients with two weeks of groceries of food of choice. Other changes include efforts aimed at minimizing waste, improving communication with stakeholders and initiating a capital campaign project for expansion and renovation.

The pantry’s more than 1,200 clients are a mix of the older adults who are trying to make it month to month, people with disabilities, individuals experiencing medical challenges and working families facing hunger and food insecurity.

Recently, several stakeholders (donors and supporters) stopped in at the food pantry—and they were overwhelmed to witness its large and efficient day-to-day operations and to observe hungry families making their food choices.

Yes, since 1983, the food pantry has definitely evolved. It is no longer a small pantry just collecting canned goods.

Tremendous progress has been made over the past few years. However, the Maple/Morgan Park Community Food Pantry needs monetary donations today and each month to run its day-to-day operations. The pantry still must purchase food and food supplies, and it has to pay for essential and recurring expenses.

The pantry continues to evolve as a charity organization to end hunger and to provide a modicum of hope for each client, and as director, I want to thank our donors and supporters for their tremendous support. And, we absolutely can’t do what we do without more support.

At this time, the pantry is sending a special appeal to the community for support of its emergency food assistance.

Every donation makes a real and permanent difference in feeding the community’s hungry families.

Please send a donation today, or give each month, to help provide two weeks of emergency groceries to our community’s hungry older adults, disabled persons and families in need. With the pantry’s discounts and tax-exempt certification, every $3 donated to the Maple/Morgan Park Community Food Pantry buys a meal.

Look at the impact of your generosity: $20 will buy 60 meals; $30 will buy 90 meals; $40 will buy 120 meals; $50 will buy 150 meals; $60 will buy 180 meals; $75 will buy 225 meals; $100 will buy 300 meals; and $250 will buy 750 meals.

Without monetary donations, our older adults, disabled persons and other disadvantaged families won’t be able to receive groceries for emergency assistance.

The pantry is also appealing for support of its renovation capital campaign.

In 2018, it took the staff nearly a year to revamp and to reorganize the entire existing floor space, to reconfigure storage shelving, etc., and to begin the process of shifting to the Client Choice model. Our entire leased space was converted to accommodate Client Choice Innovative Shopping, along with the temporary use of hallway space as a waiting area for our clients.

But, we are running out of storage and workspace! We need to conduct a major expansion and renovation of the food pantry’s operations at 11030 S. Longwood Dr. The expansion and the renovation capital campaign budget is $35,000.

The Maple/Morgan Park Food Pantry would like to send its thanks to the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club and the Beverly Arts Center for hosting a charity fundraiser on April 10 to benefit the pantry. Our volunteers also thank the community for coming out and attending this special fundraiser.

The food pantry is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. As stakeholders, it is important that community members get to know their local food pantry. Area residents are cordially invited to stop in and observe the Client Choice model and gain perspective about the renovation capital campaign project.

Please, send or drop off your gifts today or each month to the Maple/Morgan Park Community Food Pantry, 11030 S. Longwood Dr., Chicago, IL 60643.

For more information, contact me at (773) 239-3013 or email kkeoverstreet@aol.com.

Karen Overstreet