By Ken Trainor
Over 400 Girl Scouts hope to fill local food pantry shelves on Oct. 9, the day they go door to door, collecting bags of food and toiletries for the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry (housed in the First United Church basement) as well as the smaller-scale Forest Park Food Pantry (located in the Forest Park Community Center).
During the week prior to the drive, girls will hang fliers on door handles, asking residents to place their donations in bags outside their doors by 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. Pantries especially need canned meat, peanut butter, tuna, vegetables, soup, cereal and pasta, as well as diapers, laundry soap, shaving cream, shampoo and toothpaste.
Demand for food has increased at an alarming rate. In 2005, the average number of families served per month was 155. This year the average is 1,200.
"At four cans of vegetables per family, 48,000 cans of vegetables go out our doors each month," says Kathy Russell, Food Pantry executive director. Volunteer efforts have also increased proportionately. Several years ago, pantry operations required 60 volunteer shifts a month. Now some 340 volunteer shifts each month are staffed.
The Girl Scout Food Drive is the largest area food drive, collecting at least 20 tons of food annually. Tax-deductible monetary contributions are also appreciated. Please make checks payable to Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry, 848 Lake St., Oak Park 60301, if you live in Oak Park and River Forest. For residents of Forest Park, make checks payable to the Forest Park Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., Forest Park 60130.