Beyond Hunger, known for leveraging monetary donations to purchase large quantities of food at discounted rates, is now calling on the community to donate canned goods to stock their food pantry.

“The food supply chain is just wacky right now,” said Michelle Zurakowski, executive director of Beyond Hunger. “We have plenty of fresh produce and rescue product — just cans are in short supply.”

Beyond Hunger is calling on the community to donate canned meats (chicken and tuna), canned meat meals (ravioli and pasta rings), canned vegetables, canned beans, and canned soups. While the pantry appreciates donations of canned fruit it is not as critically needed as the other items listed.

Food panty staff speculate early hoarding of canned goods during the pandemic may have contributed to the shortage. Disruption in the supply chain and delivery delays have made accessing non-perishable items challenging during COVID-19.  Beyond Hunger is limited by availability and demand for food bank services have grown exponentially. 

Beyond Hunger staff foresee the need for pantry services continuing to rise in the coming weeks and months. Emergency increases in SNAP benefits implemented in response to COVID-19 are set to expire at the end of the month. Additionally, pop-up food distribution events hosted by Austin Coming Together on the West Side are scheduled to conclude on June 18.

“We are seeing high increases in first time visitors to the pantry and we are facing shortages,” said Sarah Corbin, Beyond Hunger communication director. “Our pantry manager Ricardo [Garcia] actually had to go shopping from store-to-store to purchase items we were not able to keep in stock.”

After putting out a call for help in the community a steady stream of donors dropped off 2,003 pounds of food last Friday bringing the week’s total to 7,002 pounds of donated canned goods. 

And the pantry still needs more help filling their shelves.

If you are interested in pitching in, canned good contributions are being accepted Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Donations are not accepted on Wednesdays to allow staff and volunteers to focus on serving pantry clients. 

Beyond Hunger is located in the basement of First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St. When arriving to donate canned goods, enter the parking lot in the rear of the church off Kenilworth Avenue. Look for the open drop off window—a basement window in the school on the east side of the lot. Additionally, Beyond Hunger has an Amazon Smile wish list supporters can use to purchase needed items for the pantry.

“What a wonderful community we have,” said Corbin.  “We are working to provide all the nutritious foods pantry clients need and want.”

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