In addition to being local pie-bakers and cookie-makers, Meg and Molly Svec, the sister duo behind Spilt Milk Pastry, 103 S. Oak Park Ave., have introduced “Feeding Our Neighbors” — a program designed to support and serve vulnerable community members affected by COVID-19 job losses and business losses due to recent looting.
The Svec sisters and the team at Spilt Milk are always looking for ways to donate or leverage their products and connections to make a difference in the community. Recent community unrest, however, compelled the bakery owners to give back in a bigger way.
“We realized we had the opportunity to be more deliberate in our outreach,” said Meg Svec. “When school lunch programs were shut down, I felt like there was something we could do to help. We can feed people.”
After speaking to the principal at Havlicek Elementary in Berwyn, Svec learned school lunch programs had been disrupted because of threats of violence in the area. Spilt Milk committed to making bag lunches for distribution throughout the community to students who may not have otherwise had access to a wholesome meal.
The sisters ordered supplies to craft hundreds of lunches including PB&J, chips, fresh fruit, and two Spilt Milk cookies. The lunches were delivered to the food pantry housed at Ebenezer Christian Reform Church. Kay Rops, director of youth and community care at the church, distributed the lunches in the community. Spilt Milk has committed to partnering with community organizations to keep this effort going indefinitely.
Additionally, Spilt Milk began offering grocery boxes for families facing food insecurity because of COVID-19. Orders opened at noon last Tuesday and Svec intended to limit orders to 100 boxes. She stepped away from her computer for an hour and when she returned Svec found more than 300 orders had been placed.
“I was shocked by the response,” said Svec. “I feel like there are a lot of resources out there, but right now need must be greater than ever.”
After consulting with Beyond Hunger, Svec learned there can be a stigma attached with using a food pantry for many people and opportunities like Spilt Milk’s grocery boxes are a valuable asset during times like these — especially for individuals hoping to avoid the use of a formal food pantry.
The crew from Spilt Milk and a team of volunteers assembled 140 grocery packages for distribution last Saturday. Boxes included a hodgepodge of items like meat, eggs, milk, fresh produce, and pantry staples such as beans, rice, pasta and bread as well as sundries like toilet paper, toothpaste and shampoo.
“The supply chain is a little wonky right now,” said Svec. “It really has become a community effort to fill these boxes.”
Slagel Family Farm donated 200 pounds of meat and eggs for use in the boxes. Serenus Pastures made an additional meat donation, Paper Bag Seeds donated greens and Carnivore provided soups for the boxes. Big names like GFS and Alliance discounted and donated some items, while Whole Foods and Costco provided additional produce. Oak Park Brewing, 155 S. Oak Park Ave., donated their storage coolers to store perishable items and offered their dining room as a socially distant assembly area.
More than 40 volunteers worked to pack and distribute the boxes on Friday and Saturday. Svec said several delivery drivers would transport boxes to specified locations, while the bulk of boxes would be distributed in the parking lot at Saint Edmund’s Church. Individuals on the waiting list to receive a box will be accommodated in the coming weeks. Like the bagged lunches, Spilt Milk’s grocery box effort will continue indefinitely as well.
Spilt Milk is also sponsoring families who need help paying bills, purchasing clothing or shopping for groceries.