Community Bank awards Champion Grant to Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry

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By Evan O'Brien

Content Manager

Provided by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest

Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest is pleased to announce that the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is the recipient of Community Bank's Champion Grant. The purpose of the Champion Grant is to assist organizations in providing community outreach programs for low or moderate income individuals.

For 35 years, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry has provided hunger relief, benefits counseling and nutritional counseling for low-income residents from 28 zip codes in Cook County. Communities served the the Pantry include Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Maywood, Bellwood, Broadview, Melrose Park, and the Austin and Humboldt Park neighborhoods of Chicago. Annually, the Pantry serves over 48,000 individuals and distributes over half a million pounds of food. The Pantry has grown beyond the traditional model of distributing food, and today encourages nutritional eating habits by distributing lean meats, low-fat dairy products, multi-grain breads, and fresh produce. The Pantry also helps clients achieve true food security by linking them to federal benefits such as SNAP ("food stamps"). The SNAP program helps low-income families achieve economic stability.

A grant in the amount of $1,000 was presented to Kathy Russell, Executive Director of the Pantry, and Michele Zurakowski, Director of Operations for the Pantry, on Thursday, January 12. Bernard D. Headley II, Community Lending Specialist for Community Bank, presented the grant. The Pantry will use the Champion Grant to help increase the number of families served by the SNAP program.

Through the Champion Grant, Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest encourages growth and support in economically challenged communities. Champion Grants will be awarded to qualifying organizations throughout the year. The Champion Grant application is available on the Community Bank website at

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