The location might be different, but the message is still the same, ‘Ending Hunger and Empowering Lives.’ Mayor Pradel and community members helped Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry open their new facility at 1871 High Grove Lane, Naperville Il.
“It makes me feel excited and relieved to have this project completed,” said Loaves & Fishes Executive Director and CEO Charles McLimans. “Now we can start the new phase of what the new Loaves & Fishes will be which is empowering lives and ending hunger.”
The Abernathy family is one of five hundred families a week that the pantry distributes food to. This Naperville family says the new environment makes them feel like they are not getting a handout.
“It feels more like a grocery store,” said Loaves & Fishes Client Lekecia Abernathy. “I feel like I’m just shopping and not getting help. I love it.”
“Food is not a privilege,” said McLimans. “It is a right and they are able to come here in a dignified manner. When you are walk inside our facility it’s very bright and very cheery.”
McLimans says because of the newly acquired 16,000 sq ft building; food demand will increase. The pantry has all the essential space to store the 150-thousand pounds of food the volunteers are expecting to distribute a week.
“The storage in the back is incredible,” said Loaves & Fishes Volunteer Paul Felstrup. “There are big walk in coolers and freezers. We are able to prepare a good inventory for the week.”
For the first time in 27 years, Loaves & Fishes are offering nutritional and financial educational programs for their clients in their new community rooms.
“We will continue to provide more food to more people,” said McLimans. “We will also want to work with those individuals that we can empower them and ask them the question for the first time, why they can’t put food on the table and what can we do to solve that problem.”
Loaves & Fishes strive to get people back on their feet, and when the Abernathy’s cart fills up to the top, they see it as a sign of hope.
“We are being fed,” said Loaves & Fishes Client Lekecia Jr. Abernathy. “We don’t have to worry about where are next meal is coming from, and that brings us a lot of joy and that makes us happy.”
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