Friends of Lisle group: Feeding a community

October 31, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

A township food pantry will use new funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health to finance a building expansion and purchase a refrigeration truck, enabling the pantry to store more food and feed more people in the local community.

This exciting expansion is being supported through Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Community Investment Fund. In July 2022, Edward-Elmhurst Heath announced it had awarded $3,994,000 to 14 organizations across Cook, DuPage and Will Counties with the goal of advancing health equity and supporting local economic growth.

The Friends of Lisle (FOL) Food Pantry was created ten years ago to meet the needs of underserved residents of Lisle Township. The nonprofit works with the township and Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) to coordinate the delivery of food services to the community through the Food Pantry. The Pantry purchases food from NIFB and receives donations from local merchants as well as the FOL’s volunteer-run garden.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, FOL has seen a 30% increase in residents experiencing food insecurity. In order to meet the community’s growing needs, FOL is looking to expand the Pantry’s receiving, storage and kitchen areas. The expansion will increase the Pantry’s capacity for food storage and allow FOL to prepare and serve hot meals. Hewitt says the expansion will enable the Pantry to deliver prepared meals to residents’ doors through Meals on Wheels.

“We were created back when we were feeding about 500 people a month,” said Diane Hewitt, Supervisor of Lisle Township. Over the past two years, that number has increased fivefold to 2,600 people each month. “We weren't built for the current need.”

FOL also needs a more effective means of transporting donations. The Pantry is currently using a minivan to transport deliveries, which requires hours of labor, multiple volunteers and numerous trips to the Pantry to keep the food from spoiling.

“We need a refrigerated truck that a forklift can access,” said Hewitt. The new truck will reduce the amount of time and staff needed to receive donations and keeping the food refrigerated during transit will reduce food spoilage.

Every aspect of a person’s life is impacted when they experience food insecurity – learning, employment, housing, and social and emotional well-being. The Friends of Lisle Food Pantry is a safety net for the underserved residents of their community. The building expansion and refrigerated truck will play an important role in the Pantry’s mission.

“We really need to grow in order to meet the needs in the community,” said Hewitt.

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s Community Investment Fund partners.

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