Photo: On March 24, the Hunger Resource Network distributed more than 61,000 pounds of chicken to more than 40 food pantries and homeless shelters. Elburn resident Wynette Edwards is a director with the network, and has been instrumental in expanding the network into the Fox Valley area. Courtesy Photo
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn resident Wynette Edwards, a director of the Hunger Resource Network, was part of an effort in March to distribute more than 61,000 pounds of chicken to more than 40 agencies. Thanks to Edwards, those agencies included the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, the Elgin Food Pantry, the Kendall County Food Pantry and the Salvation Army in St. Charles.
Edwards, who has lived in Elburn for about seven years, is one of a small group of individuals who started the Hunger Resource Network three years ago. The network makes connections between suppliers and volunteer organizations that want to help with food banks, pantries, homeless shelters and other agencies that help those in need.
The distribution of the chickens was a great example of how the network brings together generous and hard-working people and businesses with organizations during the Hunger Resource Network Community Outreach Day on March 24.
Whole Foods Markets customers and associates in the Evanston area donated more than $26,000 raised during several collection campaigns the two stores sponsored. Miller Poultry in Indiana, a supplier of Whole Foods, offered their antibiotic-free Amish whole chickens at a greatly reduced price, and network directors arranged for the purchase of the chicken and its distribution to area soup kitchens, food pantries and homeless shelters.
“We gave it out in three hours,” Edwards said.
The network has a great model for the distribution of food and other items that people need, she explained.
“Logistics are especially important when you are distributing frozen food; you have to get it there quickly,” she said.
Another part of their model involves matching farmers markets with food pantries. Volunteers show up at the farmers markets at the end of the day, obtain unsold fresh produce and make sure that it gets to the pantries while it is still fresh.
“I can’t see things being wasted,” Edwards said. “The food needs to be eaten. I like to keep it out of the landfills and in people’s stomachs.”
The network’s volunteer organizations have included churches, service clubs, students with their school service projects, and even a book club. Volunteers are always needed, whether it is to help with the distribution of food, raising money or making calls to food pantries to find out about their needs.
Sometimes agencies call the network with their needs, and the directors make the necessary connections to fill that need. Hesed House was on the receiving end of this when they asked for and received a refrigerator.
For more information about the network, find out how to help or how to receive help, visit the website at www.hungerresourcenetwork.org.