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Pandemic means less food to give out but higher demand at Loaves & Fishes

An increase in demand combined with a reduction in supply has affected Naperville-based Loaves & Fishes Community Services’ ability to serve its clients. Founded in 1984, Loaves & Fishes provides healthy food and impactful programs for self-sufficiency to people in need.

The Daily Herald talked to Joni Wiltz, Director of Marketing and Communications, to learn more about how the pandemic has impacted this nonprofit.

Q. Who does your agency serve and how do you serve them?
A. Loaves & Fishes meets the needs of struggling families primarily living in DuPage County and parts of Will County. Clients receive a healthy variety of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, and eggs. The Loaves & Fishes CARES programs help clients become self-sufficient through a variety of opportunities including resource meetings, public benefits, emergency assistance, car donations, Vita tax preparation, job readiness, computer classes, budget and credit classes, and Moving Up, a 16-session intensive to help clients overcome barriers so they can become self-sufficient.

Q. From where do the majority of your donations come? Is there an annual fundraising event?
A. A majority of our donations come from individuals, foundations, businesses, and faith communities.

Our annual Gala, Night to End Hunger, will be held virtually at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29, celebrating the power of a community coming together to end hunger and transform lives.

Additional annual fundraising events include Chef Showdown, scheduled for Oct. 28, and Toasting for a Cause, set for February 2021. For more information on our events and to purchase tickets, visit loaves-fishes.org.

Q. About how many people per year does your agency help?
A. Over 20,000 unique individuals; 54% of those we served are families with children.

Q. How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your organization and its ability to help those in need?
A. Over the past few months, Loaves & Fishes has seen a significant increase in those needing help. Before COVID-19, Loaves & Fishes served 765 families a week but are now serving approximately 1,000 families a week. We have adapted our grocery distribution model to offer curbside delivery. This modified system uses less people to keep clients, volunteers, and staff as safe as possible. To abide by CDC guidelines and the State of Illinois mandates, we have had to reduce the number of volunteers in the building by about 80%.

Loaves & Fishes relies on local grocery partners for its food rescue program. During this time, we are experiencing a reduction in this food supply…

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To find out more about Loaves & Fishes Community Services, visit www.loaves-fishes.org.

By: Susan Klovstad, originally published in 7/24/2020 in the Daily Herald

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