The Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry will slash the number of communities it serves next year to make up for cuts to its budget from the federal government.
Fourteen communities will no longer be served by the pantry starting Jan. 1 to make up for a $50,000 drop in what the agency receives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The eliminated towns include Melrose Park, Brookfield and North Riverside, which all together make up about 35 percent of the pantry's 15,723 clients.
"It's a decision [between] stretching our resources to serve everybody not as well, or tightening our belt and our service area and continuing to provide good service," said Kathy Russell, executive director of the food pantry.
All the communities being eliminated are already served by another food pantry, according to Russell. The agency is being hit on all fronts, as its client list has swelled by 27 percent because of the recession, while food costs have also surged by 25 percent.
In addition to dropping the 14 communities from its list, Russell said they plan to ramp up their efforts to "rescue" soon-to-be-tossed food from local stores, along with seeking more donations.
The other communities cut from the food pantry's list are Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood, Westchester, Northlake, Hillside, Berkeley, Stone Park, LaGrange Park, Lyons and Stickney.
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