From November 13th through the 20th, Loaves & Fishes served 4,185 persons, of whom 1,839 were children, 2,118 adults, and 228 seniors, in a total of 996 households. Yes, this is a record week. However, each of these persons and families received a generous amount of food, including a turkey with all the trimmings for… Read more »
Comments given by Executive Director/CEO Charles McLimans at the June 14, 2012 Day Without Hunger flag-raising ceremony: Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry celebrated our Fifth annual Day without Hunger on Thursday, June 14th. We chose June for Day without Hunger because it is National Hunger Awareness Month. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of hunger in our community and reiterate a call to action to end hunger. Today, June 14th is also Flag Day. The 4th of July is America’s birthday, but on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag’s suggested design. The first Flag Day is believed to have originated in 1885 by a school teacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin named BJ Cigrand, when he arranged for the pupils of his school district to celebrate “Flag Birthday.” This year’s theme was Freedom from Hunger. Since the date we chose for our Day without Hunger coincided with Flag Day, we were inspired by our friends at the Exchange Club of Naperville to erect a flag pole, raise the Stars & Stripes over Loaves & Fishes, and celebrate a patriotic theme of Freedom from Hunger. The vision of Loaves & Fishes is ending hunger in our community, and we believe that Freedom from Hunger is an essential human right, an essential American freedom, and not a privilege. As one of our guest veteran speakers will tell us, adequate food is an essential element in society in order for democracy and freedom to flourish. We know that the United States is a land of plenty, and that here in the Midwest we inhabit the breadbasket of the world. Why then right here in DuPage County is 10% of the population food insecure (unable to obtain sufficient food through their own means), and why does one out of every five children fail to receive a sufficient quantity of food daily? This is unacceptable to us and, we know, to all of you as well. Our community agrees that hunger has no place here and that everyone deserves to be free from hunger. You all make the work of Loaves & Fishes possible through your generosity. At the end of this month as our fiscal year ends, we will have seen more than 27,000 family visits (over 100,000 persons represented in those visits)! This is a 70% increase over last year with our increased outreach to all of Naperville and DuPage County. We can say with a great deal of confidence that we are ending hunger and providing freedom from hunger to the multitude of friends and neighbors who rely on Loaves & Fishes as a primary food source for their families. Freedom from Hunger and Flag Day also provides a great opportunity for us to Salute our Veterans and Troops. I am thrilled to officially announce on this momentous occasion the latest collaborative service effort in our Pathways to Empowerment, our Veterans’ Services Program. Loaves & Fishes is proud to announce its newest partnership with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to bring assistance to the veterans of DuPage County that are experiencing hardship. Jeff Willis, the Northern Division Supervisor for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be with us today during Day Without Hunger to provide information to our clients and our to our community about services available to veterans. Our primary focus will be to assist eligible veterans and their families with VA healthcare and VA benefits, as well as the new GI Bill for retraining veterans ages 35-60. However, all veterans who have served in the military will be interviewed to determine what support might be available for their individual situations. A certified VA representative will be at Loaves & Fishes regularly to meet with veterans, and all services are provided free of charge. Why is Loaves & Fishes providing Veterans’ Services? Our Pathways to Empowerment programs are designed and programmed in collaboration with partners. Loaves & Fishes provides a central point of service for partners to deliver their programs. Food is the anchor that brings all people together, as we must all eat in order to survive, even warriors! Loaves & Fishes’ reach extends into communities all throughout DuPage County. The existing veterans’ services network is woefully inadequate to serve the overwhelming needs of aging veterans and returning troops. They have given their all for us. We must do the same for them. Loaves & Fishes will work with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to connect veterans with state and federal programs. In addition, we will enroll veterans in other programs sponsored by Loaves & Fishes in collaboration with partners such as Samaritan Interfaith Counseling Center and Fox Valley Institute for Growth & Wellness, where Dr. Laura Bokar is a noted PTSD expert. These programs will provide emotional support, along with job counseling and placement, financial education, and tax services, among other services. Did you know that DuPage County has the second largest population of veterans in the State of Illinois, behind Cook County? This must be an area of concern for all DuPage County residents, and Loaves & Fishes is proud to live out our mission and empower veterans and their families toward self-sufficiency. Food is and will continue to be our core mission and the anchor that unites our community, partners, and friends to find solutions to issues that prevent people from leading plentiful lives. None of us would enjoy Freedom from Hunger, or any other of the many freedoms we sometimes take for granted, were it not for the great sacrifices so many of our family, friends, and countrymen have made to preserve the principles, rights, and freedom represented and won by those who have fought and died under the Star Spangled Banner of the United States of America. Let us now stand as the American Legion Post #43 and VFW Post #3873 present the colors of our freedom. credit: Peter Hoffman Pictures of Day Without Hunger
Given at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Naperville on Sunday, February 12, 2012: Since the First Sunday after Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, we have been reading from the Gospel of Mark. It is very significant and important for us to remember that Jesus was baptized by John to acknowledge full acceptance of his humanity. As Christians, we are baptized in order to fully receive and accept the life of Christ within us. So, we continually ask ourselves, how do we live the life of Christ? Already in just the first chapter of Mark’s gospel, after Jesus is baptized, he accomplishes a great deal. He’s baptized, then he’s temped by Satan in the desert, he goes to Galilee to begin his ministry and calls the First Disciples. He teaches, he cures a man possessed by a demon, he cure’s Simon’s mother-in-law, he heals a bunch more people, leaves Capernaum to try to get some rest, and as we hear in today’s Gospel, cures a leper. (That’s a lot of work for one man! I can imagine Jesus was tired after all that!) Even though no one in Jesus’ day would have dreamed to touch a leper, an unclean person, Jesus is moved with pity for the leper because the leper asks him to heal him with faith. Even though it was against the mandates of Jewish tradition, Jesus is the Creator and so his touch alone renews and heals the man of his unclean, leprous condition. It is important to note here that Jesus heals with compassion and that throughout his ministry he goes out to the people, and he also allows people in need to come to him. Jesus ministered, healed, and created a new wherever he went and wherever he was. If we jump ahead in Mark to Chapter 8, verses 1-10, Jesus is once again found teaching and ministering to the people: In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. This is Mark’s account of the Miracle of the Loaves & Fishes. Each of the four evangelists wrote about this miracle, as they also mentioned Jesus healing or cleansing lepers, or unclean people. Once again we hear that Jesus’ heart is moved with pity and compassion for the crowd. So I’d like us to reflect on Jesus’ actions and ask ourselves a couple of questions: 1. Who are the lepers, the unclean, the off limits, the outcast of our society, or our community today? 2. And how do we imitate the ministry of Christ? If we possess the heart of Christ, how are we moved with pity and compassion, like Christ, to heal others through our actions, our ministry? Who are the lepers in our society, and right here in our community? -They are the hungry. -They are the poor. -They are the homeless and jobless. -They are the disabled. -They are the person with AIDS. They are the alcoholic and the drug addict. -They are those with mental illness. -They are the veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. -They are us How do we imitate Christ? We, as Disciples of Christ, are called to continue the healing ministry of Christ. Through our baptism we receive the Holy Spirit and have Christ within us, and have the ability to heal others as individuals and when we come together in a communal action. We are the living body of Christ. We are the hands of Christ that serve others. We are the voice of Christ that offers words of hope. We are the ears of Christ that hear the cry of the poor, the unclean and the suffering, and we respond. We are the body of Christ acting in the world and we believe that, like Christ, we are in this world to serve God and our brothers and sisters, and we do not exist just for ourselves. I know that today I am preaching to the proverbial choir, since all of you, the community of believers at St. John’s Episcopal, are engaged in actions that continue the ministry of Christ. You get involved and help others and through your actions you heal others and repair a world corrupted by sin and death. Going back to the miracle of the Loaves & Fishes, I am here today also to tell you that the miracle of the Loaves & Fishes continues each day through the miracle of sharing that takes place through this congregation, and throughout our community, by each of us living the life of Christ. At Loaves & Fishes we provide groceries to individuals and families in need, most of which would be considered the lepers of today’s society. We serve all of Naperville and DuPage County. And if you are not familiar with the changing face of poverty in our community you may ask, is there a need for a food pantry in an affluent community like Naperville? Yes, there is. Let me share with you some of the staggering numbers of people we served just last month, in January 2012: -2,425 households with 9,561 people -4,672 adults -4,082 children (Nearly half of all of our clients are under the age of 18.) -808 seniors -561 Disabled -627 Single moms with children -In the last 7 months (July – Jan) total family visits to Loaves & Fishes have increased 71% over the same period last year! -Households enrolling for the first time are already at 111% of the entire previous fiscal year, in just seven months. I go back to another adage, if you build it, they will come. Our new facility has been open now for just one year. We built it because we did not have the capacity to effectively serve all of the people coming to us in need. People find their way to Loaves & Fishes because they are hungry, they are poor, they are sick, they are depressed, they are disturbed…and we provide them not only with food, but with HOPE. We built our facility in order to better serve our brothers and sisters, mindful of the Core Values of Loaves & Fishes: COMMUNITY, COMPASSION, DIGNITY, HOPE, and SERVICE. These are values that resonate with many people, as Naperville is a caring community. They are also the values Christ embodied throughout his ministry, as he went healing and feeding his people physically, spiritually, and mentally. At Loaves & Fishes, since we opened our new facility, we are building programs that attempt to serve and heal the whole person. Food is our core service and the vision of our organization is ending hunger in our community. However, we have learned that we cannot end hunger in our community by simply giving out more food. We must consider the whole person. Thus, Loaves & Fishes offers programs in collaboration with other nonprofit and corporate partners in the areas of: -Financial assistance (VITA program currently running through April 14th) (IRS) -Public Benefit Assistance (LIHEAP and SNAP/LINK) -Nutrition Education and Urban Farming (Benedictine U., Master Gardeners) -Employment Counseling and Assistance (Community Career Center) -Literacy and ESL (Literacy DuPage and College of DuPage) -Mental Health (Samaritan Interfaith) -And future programs will offer Computer Training and Veterans Services). Like Jesus in the early chapters of Mark, we keep very busy at Loaves & Fishes serving his people! Gratefully, I am here today to share faith with you, to reflect on the life of Christ within us, and to invite you to put your faith into action and get involved with Loaves & Fishes, or with another worthy charity in our community where you can directly be the hands, the face, the voice and heart of Christ to others. Many of you are already committed to serving through Loaves & Fishes, and I thank you. I always tell everyone that there are three resources that we require to make our mission a success: Food, Funds, and Friends. It takes an entire community to feed an entire community, and every member of this community is able to contribute in some way. The gifts that we have been given by our generous Lord are meant to be shared generously with others. I invite you to come to Loaves & Fishes and experience the ministry of sharing, feeding, healing, and hope that goes on there every day. I invite you to consider Loaves & Fishes when you are sharing your time, talent and treasure with others. I thank you for inviting me to worship with you today, for accepting me as Jesus accepted the leper, because your faith and witness heal me and give me hope. Together, let us continue responding to our baptismal call by each day loving and serving others, imitating the ministry and life of Christ.