John Turner left Broadview Community Presbyterian Church with so many bags of food he needed help getting all of them to his car.
“It’s a way for a lot of people to get help,” Turner said of the Broadview Food Pantry. “They give a lot of food for families so it helps. “
The pantry, which had operated for 23 years, closed in March. Bob Payne, who started the pantry’s oversight group — Broadview Service Center — had no obvious choice to hand the reins of the Service Center to as he become older.
“Once I heard the pantry was closing, I called Bob to find out what was involved in running the pantry,” said Broadview resident Judy Brown-Marino, who had volunteered at the facility from time to time.
After hearing about the company involvement, the required reporting and other requirements like insurance, Brown-Marino decided to get the pantry up and running again. The pantry, located on the lower level of Broadview Community Presbyterian Church at Roosevelt Road and 20th Avenue, reopened on June 6.
The hours and reach of the pantry were expanded. The pantry now serves residents of Broadview as well as Hines and distributes food from 6-7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday.
As director of the pantry, Brown-Marino also reached out to everyone in Broadview by mail to ensure everyone in need was aware of the service.
She said the numbers speak for themselves.
“With our expanded hours, service area and mail outreach, our number of clients has almost tripled,” Brown-Marino said.
The Broadview Food Pantry gets most of the food it distributes through the Greater Chicago Food Depository — some for free and some it must buy. As needed and as the pantry is able, the food supply is supplemented with food purchased from or donated by local retailers.
Clients are allowed to visit the pantry twice per month.
“We help supplement clients as best we can,” Brown-Marino said. “At some pantries, whether you are one person or have a family of eight, you get the same amount of food. There are some things we need to be limited with, but there are some areas we beef up for families.”
Clients are not required to provide any proof of income, but are asked to verify their address and to sign a statement that they meet the Illinois Department of Human Services’ guidelines.
“The Greater Chicago Food Depository is adamant about taking people at their word,” Brown-Marino said. “We would rather have someone scam us out of a few canned goods than take food away from a person who is struggling.”
Brown-Marino said no one is turned away, noting that people from outside the pantry’s service area are allowed to go through the pantry once and directed to pantries in their area that can serve them.
Mark Murre of Maywood was one such client on a recent Wednesday afternoon. Being from outside the pantry’s service area didn’t keep him from leaving with a canvas bag, two shopping bags and a box full of food.
“This will definitely help with food for the week,” said the father of five.
Murre said he is trying “to do the Uber thing” in Chicago to help make ends meet, but has been put on a payment plan to take care of some parking tickets before he can drive in the city. Struggling to make ends meet, he came to the pantry after being told about it by a friend.
“Everyone has been so helpful,” he said of the pantry’s volunteers.
A host of volunteers handle everything from moving palettes of food delivered from the Food Depository to helping clients to their cars with bags of food.
“Our volunteers really are wonderful,” Brown-Marino said.
Ellen Cone has volunteered at the pantry with her husband, Sherman, for more than five years.
“I like the people and I love to help people,” the 82-year-old Cone said of her volunteering at the pantry both Tuesday nights and Wednesdays.
Joe Lofton is a client of the pantry, as well as a volunteer.
“I realized there was an opportunity to work and help the pantry,” Lofton said.
Pantry volunteers will be recognized at a Volunteer Appreciation & Fundraising Dinner from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 8 at Sawa’s Old Warsaw, located at Cermak Road & 17th Avenue. The pantry is also asking people and businesses who can to purchase an extra dinner ticket or two that can be distributed to Food Pantry clients who would not otherwise be able to attend.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 708-344-4520.
—- Broadview Food Pantry reaching more people —