CBS Chicago, March 7, 2022

New Cold Storage Hub Helping West Suburban Non-Profit Provide Food For Hungry Families In DuPage, Will, Kane, And Kendall Counties

Click here to watch the spot on CBS2 Chicago 

By Mugo Odigwe

CHICAGO (CBS) — In Illinois, more than a million people are facing hunger, according to national nonprofit Feeding America, but one organization in the western suburbs is trying to keep families fed and healthy.

CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe reports Loaves & Fishes Community Services recently opened up a new facility in Aurora.

It never really feels like work if you’re having fun, but Libby Hoffman doesn’t get paid to do this work.

“My husband and I are here for one shift a week,” she said. “There’s a lot of interesting and fun people that volunteer, with interesting life stories.”

That’s the key word: volunteer. For the past 10 years, she’s showed up to Loaves & Fishes, sorting through food and other items that will go to families who need them most.

“People think that, in the suburbs, there’s no need, and the need is great, and it’s growing, and it changes,” she said.

So folks at Loaves & Fishes have a mission: to end hunger in parts of Illinois.

“About one in five people in our community are either below the poverty line, or below the low-income line,” said Loaves & Fishes president and CEO Mike Havala.

The organization has been around since 1984, serving DuPage County and parts of Will County; but Havala is particularly proud of their brand-new hub in Aurora, which allows them to serve the people of DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties.

“The biggest investment we made was in some very large freezer and cooler units. So in this new hub, we have about 38,000 cubic feet of cold storage, and that is a game changer,” he said.

Getting the food there in the first place takes hard work. Havala calls it “food rescue.”

Every single day, Loaves & Fishes trucks are dispersed to local grocery stores and distribution centers to collect food that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

All that food is brought back the new hub in Aurora, where volunteers sort through the items, and then the food ends up on shelves at the Loaves & Fishes grocery store in Naperville.

Once a week, families in need can stop by.

“They choose the food that they want, and they can fill up their grocery cart. It’s at no cost to our clients,” Havala said

Families can also pick up food at a satellite site in Bolingbrook, get it at the Aurora hub, or in some cases have it delivered to their homes.

When it’s all said and done, the backbone behind all this, is the volunteer staff; well over 1,000 of them.

Some, like Hoffman, continue to come back year after year.

“I have been blessed as a person. We’ve been blessed as a family. So why not? That’s why we’re put on Earth, right? To help each other,” Hoffman said.

You can sign up to volunteer or donate on their website.