We’re almost afraid to look at an increased percentage rate these days. The U.S. Department of Labor tells us the cost of milk is up 26 percent and eggs are up 40 percent. Let’s not even talk about gasoline. But a recent leap in percentage points had us singing with joy at the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry. Donations of food and money during the Feinstein Challenge in March and April 2008 were up a combined 37 percent over last year!

Once again, generous Oak Park and River Forest families, congregations and civic clubs stepped forward to help us garner a piece of the Feinstein Challenge. Together you blessed us with $22,190 in cash donations, up from $14,668 in 2007-a 50-percent increase in money we can use to buy food and supplies for our hungry neighbors. Because we can purchase most of our supplies for about 7 cents per pound, that money will make a truly significant dent in hunger in our community. And that’s not all.

Children at five local schools decided to participate in a “School Challenge” by running food drives. We would like to thank the children (and their adults) from Ascension Brownies,
Brooks Middle School, Hatch Elementary and Roosevelt Middle schools for collecting over 800 items of food. A special thank you goes out to Holmes Elementary School in Oak Park for winning the challenge with their collection of 682 food items.

A total of 10,168 items were donated through schools, congregations and individuals. For the Feinstein Challenge, each item counts as one dollar, so our total donations during this drive came to a staggering $32,358. (The total in 2007 was $23,633)

While the Feinstein Challenge is not a matching grant (the million-dollar grant is divided proportionately among participating hunger relief organizations), it serves as a wonderful way to raise awareness of local hunger relief efforts and the needs in our community. We would like to thank the Feinstein Foundation for providing the impetus for this fund drive.

Mostly, we want to thank each of the people-whether as members of an organization or as individuals-who decided to do without a cup of coffee, a meal out, or even a remodeling project so that people in our community could receive sustenance. Thank you wonderful, dear friends for enacting the spirit of generosity!

To donate, mail a check to the OP-RF Food Pantry,

P.O. Box 3365, Oak Park 60301
or visit www.oprffoodpantry.org.

Michele Zurakowski and Kathy Russell

Operations managers, OP-RF Food Pantry

Join the discussion on social media!