by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels could feel the pressure as he was about to square off against Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner before a crowd of onlookers, Batavia High School cheerleaders and the clanging school band.
A spring debate between two mayors? No, it was just an intense build-up for the Kane County Farm Bureau’s 10th annual Shopping Spree.
The nonperishable grocery-shopping spree, held Friday at the Jewel-Osco in Batavia, had the mayors of Sugar Grove and Aurora zipping through store aisles to collect food for the food pantries they represented for the event. Michels shopped for Between Friends Food Pantry, while Weisner shopped for the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry. Weisner’s wife, Marilyn, is the executive director of Aurora Interfaith.
“There were quite a few spectators there to cheer me on, and with all the people there, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of pressure on me to perform,’” Michels said. “I raised about $1,288, and Mayor Weisner raised about $1,001. It was a lot of fun, and it was great to help raise awareness for the food banks.”
The farm bureau’s five-minute shopping spree is meant to raise awareness for National Check-Out Week, which seeks to educate the public on how to shop for healthy food. According to Michels, various elected officials have participated in the shopping spree in previous years.
“They’ve gone through all the state reps and state senators, and now they’re working with local mayors,” he said.
The rules for the shopping spree were simple: the two contestants had to stay between the second and eighth aisle (where the nonperishable items are located) and could take only two of each item. Michels filled up five grocery carts with items and practically ensured that families who visit the Between Friends food pantry will be well-caffeinated for months to come.
“Coffee seemed to be the best deal for us. A half-pound of coffee added about $7 or $8 (to the total), and they don’t get a lot of coffee at the food bank,” Michels said. “I also grabbed a lot of (cooking) oils, cereal, cereal bars, chocolate—things that the food bank doesn’t always get.”
All of the food items collected by Michels and Weisner during the shopping spree were boxed up and sent to the respective food banks.
Between Friends Food Pantry Founder/Director Melisa Taylor considered the shopping spree a success for the food pantry before the event even began.
“We went into the shopping spree knowing that even if we walked out with an additional can of beans, it’s just one more thing to help the food pantry. We knew (the spree) was a win-win no matter what,” she said.
Taylor also admitted that Michels was more than prepared for his frantic supermarket jaunt.
“At one point, I turned to a cameraman (there) and said, ‘This right here is why I am really glad my village president runs every day,’” she said.