New Trier Township Food Pantry Restocked for the Holidays
More than 100 North Shore families in need can breathe a little easier for the holidays, thanks to a community effort last week to restock its shelves.
North Shore residents were invited to participate in a food drive last Saturday sponsored at a local grocer’s. For a day, the Grand Food Center, with stores in Winnetka and Glencoe, promised to match shoppers’ donation of high-demand pantry items—including dried beans, rice and pasta, cooking oil, and paper goods.
“We’re now definitely set for the holidays,” says Brian Leverenz, a New Trier Township administrator. Last Saturday, the community service coordinator had to make two trips the pantry to empty his mini-van of non-perishable food and paper product donations. Pantry volunteers, meanwhile, were left with hours of work to sort the items among several rooms in the township office’s basement.
But no one was complaining.
“The Grand continues to be a champion of our cause, and a true, community partner in every sense of the word,” Leverenz says. His daily duties include overseeing the township’s food pantry at 739 Elm Street in Winnetka.
Chris Barber, a co-owner of the Grand Food Center, admits to getting “a little emotional” late Saturday as he watched Leverenz’ van being loaded a second time at his Winnetka store.
“My weakness came at a moment when I reflected on the incredible generosity of our shoppers,” says Barber. “At that same time, I was thinking about all the local families that will benefit from this donation.”
It’s this same blend of duty-to-community and humility that earned Barber and his colleagues a feature story in a recent issue of Quintessential New Trier. When asked why the Grand Food Center is so involved with local charities, co-owner Dan Klebba offered this response: “It’s just good business. I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that.”
The food pantry continues to be the Grand’s biggest benefactor.
The New Trier Township Food Pantry serves residents in need in Glencoe, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Wilmette, and portions of Northfield and Glenview. Despite the area’s well-to-do reputation, each community has families that quietly seek its help throughout the year.
Its continuous needs include canned pasta (like SpaghettiOs), cooking oil, dried beans, white and brown rice, and laundry detergent. Paper products like paper plates, paper towels, napkins, facial tissue and toilet paper, are also in constant demand.
“Nobody can live off of a food pantry,” Leverenz insists. That’s because the pantry rarely stocks fresh meat, fish, vegetables or produce due to the perishable nature of these items. Another common misconception, he says, is that a food pantry can feed people entirely. “That’s not true,” he says. “We're here to relieve some of the financial burden for our clientele, which allows their cash to be used for more immediate, vital needs."
To learn more, call the New Trier Township Food Pantry at 847-446-8203, or by visiting www.newtriertownship.com