West Suburban Community Pantry Presents Virtual Pantry | The Weekly of Time


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West Suburban Community Pantry (WSCP) has officially launched its Virtual Food Pantry, a new service that makes it easy for people facing hunger to order free groceries online so they can make ends meet. Users can place a virtual order anytime by visiting VirtualFoodPantry.net where they can choose the groceries they need and select a grocery pickup time and location that works best for them. The launch coincides with the unveiling of the Pantry’s new website, www.wscpantry.org designed to provide easy access to information for clients, donors and volunteers.

The Virtual Food Pantry provides free food assistance to residents of DuPage County, Bolingbrook and Romeoville, offering several grocery pickup points in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. The service provides community members with a variety of foods and groceries, including fresh produce, pantry staples, housewares, personal care products, diapers and baby wipes, etc.

“If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that online access to shopping has made life easier for everyone. And everyone needs access to nutritious food to make our community truly healthy and strong, ”said Laura Traut-Coyle, Executive Director of West Suburban Community Pantry. “Yet many of our neighbors are not getting the nutrition they need. The Virtual Food Pantry allows people who struggle to get by while juggling work, childcare, and other responsibilities to quickly access free groceries. The Pantry is committed to ending hunger in our community. The Virtual Food Pantry is a way for families to get the help they need to face each day with confidence.

Among the early adopters of the Virtual Food Pantry were families at BJ Ward Elementary School in Bolingbrook. Parents order their groceries online and then collect their orders from school. In addition to providing solid nutrition to help students learn, the program also helps families connect with other services available through Ward’s community school model.

Alfred Morales, administrator for family and community engagement for the Valley View School District, says using technology can be a challenge for some parents. “We’ve come so much online – this is how families check student grades, engage in distance learning, it has become a way of life both in and out of school. Using the virtual pantry allows families to learn about technology and encourages them to access all kinds of resources available on the Internet, ”he says. “Our families are very honest – they tend to order only when they really need help – they don’t go looking for handouts. If their situation improves, they do not take food that others can use. It is a very caring community.

The launch of the Virtual Food Pantry comes as the West Suburban Community Pantry continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although some families are back to school and work, COVID-19 continues to impact many lives. In addition, research suggests that low-income households have the most difficulty recovering from economic shocks. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for food aid nearly doubled and today the pantry still serves an increased number of households compared to pre-pandemic levels.

BJ Ward principal, Kathy Nigro, emphasizes that the school is committed to helping all children succeed in school. Ninety percent of its students are entitled to free or reduced breakfast and lunch. “Hungry children can stop, be cranky and poorly focused, can act in class,” she says. “The virtual pantry allows us to properly feed children and their families and eliminates a major challenge that families may face. Contacting parents through pickup allows us to identify other resources families may need and reduce these barriers to a good education. Teachers consider children to be more likely to access the school curriculum. Everybody wins.

Morales says the Virtual Food Pantry is receiving orders from other neighbors in need and from families at other schools in the area. “The need is there,” he said. “Our goal is to integrate services around the family so that the child can do better. But no school can do it all. We need partners to make programs like this work – and the better the partner, the better the children. From online ordering to delivery to on-site refrigeration provided by the pantry, this partnership with the west suburb community pantry is the best.

Over the past fifty years, WSCP has provided families facing hunger with nutritious meals. The Pantry has learned that while everyone is going through hard times, sometimes it is not easy for our neighbors to ask for help. The creation of the Virtual Pantry is part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to develop innovative services that respond to people facing hunger with dignity and respect. The service provides a discreet way for people to get help when they are having difficulty getting food on the table.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the WSCP plans to serve more households for many months to come. The Virtual Food Pantry will provide an essential lifeline for households that need free groceries to get through tough times. To register and receive free races, customers must visit VirtualFoodPantry.net.


Norma P. Rex

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