Another load of fresh produce has made its way to the Loaves and Fishes food pantry, something that happens nearly everyday thanks to their food rescue program.
“I think about ten or 15 years ago the idea of a food pantry was to give you a box of food with some macaroni and cheese and canned goods,” said Vice President of Operations for Loaves and Fishes Community Services, Cary Gilkey. “And we still offer those things to our clients, and that’s still part of everybody’s diet, but we know that a healthy lifestyle includes a lot more fresh product.”
To get that fresh food, each day volunteers and staff members travel to grocery stores throughout our area to collect it, then bring it back to be checked, stocked, and ultimately given out to clients.
Gilkey explains, “with four distributions a week to our clients, we are able to bring product in on a Monday, and hopefully get rid of it on a Tuesday. Tuesday we try to get rid of on Wednesday. In most cases the longest something is here in the building is two to three days. And that’s our goal.”
Grocery stores may pull an item from their shelves and donate it because it has a blemish or looks imperfect, or because it’s reaching the end of its shelf life at the store.
“A lot of people think that because the ‘best by’ date has come on a package that it’s no longer able to eat. The USDA, Dairy Council, Consumer Reports, a lot of organizations are spending a lot of time showing us that product is beyond what we call ‘best by’ date,” said Gilkey. “It doesn’t mean the food is expired, it just means that this is the peak quality time.”
With over two dozen community partners donating food on a regular basis, Loaves and Fishes is able to have new, fresh products out on the floor each time a client comes in to shop.
“Very often a family is able to leave with a lot of fresh fruit and that’s really our goal is to provide fresh, healthy product that our clients can use. It’s better for our diet, better for their health,” added Gilkey.
Helping people get fresh, quality food as they shop with dignity.
If you want to donate, Loaves and Fishes keeps an updated list of needed items on their website. Currently they have the biggest need for personal care products.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.