What: Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a proud recipient of Darden’s Restaurant Community Grants Program. Three local Darden restaurants, Olive Garden in North Riverside, Olive Garden in Schaumburg and The Capital Grille in Rosemont, each chose the Food Pantry to be the beneficiary of a $1,000 contribution from the Darden Foundation on their behalf.

“Darden Restaurants are dedicated to serving and improving the communities in which they do business” said Michele Zurakowski, Executive Director of Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.

“They are a valued community partner and we are grateful for their support and generosity-especially coming out of this long, hard winter.”

When: The Grant was awarded in early March 2014

More Info: Although the name implies a small suburban focus, Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry provides hunger relief to residents in 12 zip codes including portions of the city of Chicago and many of its near west suburbs. In 2013, nearly 44,000 individuals received over 650,000 pounds of food. Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is committed to moving beyond a “hand out what you have” model to becoming a center for healthy food options. Its food delivery format allows clients to select their own products at the Pantry much like in a grocery store, ensuring that clients are served with dignity and that waste is minimized. A typical Pantry distribution offers fresh produce, dairy, meat, and bread in addition to non-perishable food-stuffs. The on-site nutrition education program teaches clients nutrition basics through engaging food demonstrations, food samples and easy-to-use recipes featuring Pantry staples.

Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry also assists eligible clients in completing applications for federal benefits and refers them to additional community resources.

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