We love it when the friends we have helped return to share their happiness. Lacey, who was assisted by John, one of our job coaches, was one of 148 individuals who received job coaching assistance in FY2016. She returned to L&F to share her excitement and express her gratitude. She celebrated her one month anniversary as a part-time office manager and shared her new business cards. Her husband also recently gained employment as a CNC operator. Lacey’s aspirations to build a good life for the couple’s 3-year old son don’t end there: she’s been interviewing for supplemental employment too. Despite setbacks from a health issue and the effects of unemployment, she shared the secret for her ever-present smile and cheerfulness.
“My grandmother always told me that no matter how bad things get, there’s always something positive to focus on,” she said, adding, “My son has a full belly thanks to Loaves and Fishes so I ask myself, ‘What else can I do to move forward and help my family?’” Congratulations Lacey, and thank you for providing us with hope and a smile!
Margie Tarpey began her Naperville CARES tenure in 2001 as volunteer and President of the Board when it was housed within the L&F warehouse. She joined L&F as an intake volunteer in 2010 and her husband Tom followed in 2011 working in distribution. After raising their 3 children and retiring from successful careers. the Tarpeys, who also have 8 grandchildren, have been active volunteers in the community.
Margie has since transitioned into public benefits at L&F. It fulfills a desire the retired nurse manager has always had to serve others. “I love the enjoyment of helping people understand the system and navigate its complicated aspects,” she said. She relayed the story of a recent client who had difficulty understanding how to read an invoice and inadvertently overpaid $2500 toward her health insurance premium over two years. The company would only offer a credit against her account instead of a refund even though Margie had explained to them that the over-payment equaled twenty-five percent of the client’s annual income. It took more than a month of communications with the healthcare company before a refund was issued. “She was so delighted and appreciative,” said Margie, recalling the hugs and thank you card she’d received. Both Tom and Margie are excited for the future of Loaves and Fishes and its CARES Programs. “The two combined are dynamite and will enhance the community; together the food and non-food services can offer so much to people that aren’t as lucky as we are.”
As you’re likely aware, on July 1, 2016 Loaves & Fishes merged with Naperville CARES. We have been working to integrate physical space and systems to combine CARES programs with existing L&F Empowerment Programs. Loaves and Fishes CARES Programs now offers all non-food services from both organizations.
In addition to services previously provided at L&F the two main services offered previously at Naperville CARES will be added. The car program helps clients maintain or gain employment. All donated vehicles are accepted regardless of condition. Those that are too expensive to be repaired are sold at auction and the funds are used to fix the cars that can be given to clients.
The emergency assistance program helps local families in financial crisis meet their essential needs by providing financial support and resources. Clients provide detailed documentation and meet with a trained volunteer to illustrate eligibility. The Resource Committee reviews each file and if approved, works with local and agencies and congregations to put together a financial package to provide the best outcome possible for the client.
Birthday Bag Queen
Kate Schultz donated 123 birthday bags on her July 15th birthday in memoriam to her mother who she lost in 2007. “On my birthday, my mother made me feel like the most special girl in the entire world,” said Kate, citing her motivation for her annual project coordinated through Let Them Eat Cake – Chicago/Naperville.
Thank you, Kate, for the joy and smiles that erupt from your heartfelt donation!
What is Food Insecurity?
Being Food Insecure means being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of safe and nutritious food for an active, healthy life. The child food insecurity rate for DuPage County is 14.6%. Since 1995, the USDA has measured and published information about food insecurity in the United States through data collected through an annual food insecurity survey conducted through the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey questions cover a wide range of conditions—from worrying that food will run out, to not being able to afford balanced meals, to not eating for a whole day due to a lack of money. It has become an important index for understanding the health of a community.
Food insecurity has high cost for individuals, families and communities. Studies by medical researchers, nutritionists, and scientists have found that food insecurity is associated with:
- Poor physical and mental health
- Underuse of prescription medications
- Reduced nutrient intake
- Increased likelihood of experiencing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Among children, food insecurity is associated with a variety of health and wellness issues, including:
- Stomach aches
- Frequent headaches and colds
- Behavioral problems
- Poor psychosocial development
- Lower academic achievement and attainment
- Among adolescents, food insecurity is associated with higher rates of depressive disorder and suicidal symptoms.
Reducing the food insecurity is one of the best ways to improve the health of our community for everyone.
Food Rescue Facts
with Cary Gilkey, Vice-President of Operations
Our Food Rescue program accounts for 60% of the food we distribute to our clients. We have a partnership with 19 grocery stores, 7 restaurants, several warehouses and manufacturers, and 4 local farmers where we pick up food and other products that are close to the “Best By/Sell By” dates.
During an average summer week we make more than 100 pickups to rescue 70,000 to 90,000 pounds of food with our refrigerated truck, 2 cargo vans and some volunteer vehicles. This team of drivers includes 5 staff members and a fantastic group of as many as 20 volunteers. The product is recorded at the donor’s facility to help them identify their inventory loss and ‘write-off’ opportunities. We record the weight of all product donations which is reported back to the individual stores, Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feeding America. Our warehouse volunteers prepare the product for our market by separating fruits and vegetables, meat, refrigerated dairy and prepared foods, bread, baked goods and general dry grocery items. This occurs seven days a week from 7AM – 3PM. A product is still nutritious and safe to eat beyond the “Best By” date on the product which is when manufacturers and retailers want to sell it. We adhere to the standards of the USDA and research of Consumers Reports on the life of unopened food categories.
The amount of fresh produce we provide makes Loaves and Fishes a strong model in providing food resources in a compassionate and dignified manner.