Halloween initiative as sweet as candy

Thanks to Bob Fischer, president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation, for spreading the word about our Trick-or-Treat for Loaves & Fishes! Excerpt from The Naperville Sun: In the spirit of full disclosure, my annual candy forecast is never right. Every year there is more candy than kids. This could be a good thing for… Read more »

Refrigerated Truck Creates More Opportunities

The top priority of Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry’s strategic plan isto provide the broadest array possible of healthy and diverse food options.—Loaves & Fishes consulted with its Nutrition Advisory Council (NAC), comprised of nutritional experts and licensed dietitians, for advice to achieve this goal. With a client base transcending all ages and diverse cultures, nutritional considerations are… Read more »

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Results

The VITA team, headed by L&F volunteer Tom Wcisel, held their final session at Loaves & Fishes on April 13. At the end of the day, the volunteer tax team had completed 362 returns for the community, yielding $576,000 in Federal refunds and $54,000 in state refunds. That’s an increase in clients of 19% over… Read more »

Rep Bill Foster (D-IL) visits Loaves & Fishes

Congressman Foster recently toured Loaves & Fishes in response to our letter regarding the Farm Bill. We are sharing the letter’s contents here. Please see pictures from the visit and tour below. Dear Congressman Foster: Loaves & Fishes has a vital interest in advancing the Farm Bill. We serve over 600 low income households every week,… Read more »

The Government’s Role In Helping Us Live Generously

from The Far Edge of Promise on December 27, 2012: As the U.S. federal government approaches the January 1 “fiscal cliff” deadline, there continues to be discussion around closing tax “loopholes” in an effort to increase tax receipts.  As has been discussed previously, the charitable gift deduction has gotten swept up into this conversation.  It would… Read more »

Confronting Poverty – Helping the Poor through Tax Credits

from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA): This time of year we hear a lot of rhetoric and debate about taxes from politicians and pundits. One topic missing from this debate, though, is a discussion of the tax credit programs that greatly benefit low-income families, mainly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the… Read more »

To Beat Odds, Poor Single Moms Need Wide Safety Net

During our last fiscal year (July 1, 2011- June 30, 2012), Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry helped nearly 1,500 single mothers of 3,500 children. From NPR, by Pam Fessler: Once a thriving railroad hub and factory town in southeast Pennsylvania, Reading has a poverty rate of 41.3 percent and is labeled America’s poorest city with a population of 65,000 or more. “Single mothers have an especially hard time getting out of poverty. Households headed by single mothers are four times as likely to be poor as are families headed by married couples. Still, many of these women are trying to get ahead. Some know instinctively what the studies show: Children who grow up in poor families are far more likely to become poor adults. These mothers often rely on a network of support — not just from food stamps, housing subsidies, welfare, or other government programs people usually think of. They also depend on charities, churches, family, friends, personal drive, ambition and even luck to stay afloat.” Read full article here .

Demystifying Nonprofits: Helping College Grads See a Career of Service

From NonProfit Quarterly: With 56.3 percent of college grads under the age of 25 either unemployed or underemployed, young adults not considering work in nonprofits are closing themselves off to a growing sector of the economy at a time they can ill afford to ignore any employment opportunities. From 2007 to 2009, nonprofit employment has grown at a rate of 1.9 percent per year, while for-profit jobs declined 3.7 percent per year over the same period, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies. And there are no signs of that growth slowing down. 43 percent of nonprofits polled in the annual Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey indicate they will increase staff size in 2012. Read article .

Local food pantry offers healthy options

From the Naperville Sun: Jane Macdonald at L & F There is no question that processed food is cheap. Boxed foods cost less to manufacture which is then passed on to the consumer. When money is tight and time is short, processed food seems the popular choice. Local food pantries typically receive those processed foods that are not only inexpensive but “filling.” In other words, processed foods can feed more at a lower cost. But as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity have become more prevalent (especially in lower income families) food pantry’s such as Naperville’s Loaves and Fishes are stepping up to the plate to offer healthier options. Read article.

Impact of new facility on High Grove Lane

By Harsha Talappa, Loaves & Fishes Intern When I walked into Loaves & Fishes last year, it was because I had absolutely nothing to do in the summer and my parents insisted that if I wasn’t going to find a job, I should at ‘least’ volunteer. I honestly didn’t think much of the physical place at first. Loaves & Fishes was a pair of warehouses located behind Naperville North High School. One of the warehouses had pallets stacked high and two rooms: one for our office workers and one as a volunteer break room. The break room was used for meetings, training sessions, and volunteer breaks, but was simply too small to handle all of these roles sufficiently. The office room was always cramped. It was a small room, only slightly larger than my bedroom at home. The major difference between the office and my bedroom, though, was that three or four people always worked in the office, while my bedroom at home supported just me. As you should imagine, the staff of Loaves & Fishes worked in tight quarters. The distribution process, which I was told had seen improved efficiency over the previous few years, remained difficult for volunteers to manage and clients to attend. The client waiting area felt cloistered and lacked air conditioning. I felt the intense heat of Midwest summer days on many afternoons working there. Wayne, the volunteer (still) in-charge of distributing queue numbers to the clients, always had to manage the small area to ensure there was space for all of the clients, which there often wasn’t, and Dan, the volunteer unenviably tasked with managing the parking lot, rarely had a day when he didn’t have to ask clients to move their cars to one of the few spaces. Despite these shortcomings, however, the warehouses that comprised Loaves & Fishes were animated by the people who gave long hours of sweltering summer months to donate their time to our clients. The staff never lost sight of the Loaves & Fishes vision—“to end hunger in our community.” The volunteers were unfailingly polite, a sentiment that was echoed loudly and clearly in the client survey we conducted during my time there. Towards the end of my first internship at Loaves & Fishes, I began to hear murmurs that Charles and the board were pushing for a new building… …And the dream became a reality. In February of this year, our new facility at 1871 High Grove was christened. I returned during my spring break towards the end of April, I saw it for myself. I almost had trouble believing my eyes. Perhaps the most significant improvement was the new distribution area, now structured with shelves like you would find in a grocery store aisle. The new system allows our clients to feel more empowered when moving through the shopping area when compared to our old system. For the first time during this visit, I witnessed the brand new warehouse area. I saw Jerry, our warehouse supervisor, as happy as a kid in a candy shop; he had a much larger warehouse area, a full walk-in cooler, and a forklift! Another enormous improvement over the previous facility is the air-conditioned client waiting area. Just last week, in the midst of the Midwest heat wave, I saw a waiting area full of clients taking refuge from the 100-plus degree weather outside. The office, once too small for personal space, now has four separate rooms and five cubicles, capable of sustaining a full office staff. The physical changes between the old warehouses and the new building are far too much count. The distribution process has changed for the better, too. An electronic numbering system allows Wayne to do his job far more efficiently. He no longer has to yell out numbers. At the end of the distribution area, there is a table for clients to pack groceries into boxes and bags. Outside, clients generally no longer have to park as far as a block away, as our parking area has expanded greatly, from 12 to 52 total spaces. Volunteers also have a parking area. All-in-all, our ability to serve our client population has become far more effective and, I daresay, more enjoyable for all parties involved. As our service area has expanded to include all of DuPage County, we continue to push towards ending hunger in our community. The differences that are apparent since the move do not encompass one key area: our volunteers. Our volunteers are the same smiling, joking, dedicated people they were before the move. Most of our volunteers have stayed with us, and we have added many more. Their exceptional work has allowed Loaves & Fishes to transition from the old location to the new one with ease. Since I have been back, I have seen a Loaves & Fishes that continues to take its goal of ending hunger very seriously. With the new facility, we can come closer to making that goal a reality.