Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry recognized by California-based foundation

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By Community Editor


Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is pleased to announce that it has received a generous grant in the amount of $10,000 from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Fund, which is managed by the Orange County Community Foundation, located in Irvine, CA. This grant will be used to provide hunger relief and nutrition counseling to families in 12 zip codes including portions of the city of Chicago and many of its near west suburbs. Michele Zurakowski, Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, noted "without funding from grants like this one from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation, the Pantry would not be able to provide a continued high level of hunger relief and client service. We are especially pleased that a foundation located in California has recognized the value of our work. We are grateful for their support and partnership."


The grant was awarded as part of the S. L. Gimbel Foundation's Holiday Giving Program

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Although the name implies a small suburban focus, Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry provides hunger relief to families in 12 zip codes including portions of the city of Chicago and many of its near west suburbs. In 2012, over 45,000 individuals were served 600,000 pounds of food. Since 2008, client visits to the Pantry have increased almost 130%. Despite the strain of rapid growth, the Pantry's service delivery model remains caring and comprehensive. Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is committed to beyond a "hand out what you have" model to becoming a center for healthy food options. Its "client choice" delivery format ensures that clients are served with dignity and that waste is minimized. A typical Pantry distribution offers clients fresh produce, dairy, meat, and bread in addition to non-perishables. 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 clients in completing applications for SNAP (food stamp) benefits and refers them to additional community resources.

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