By Ashley South
June 22nd. Order your tickets and set the date in your calendar! Get outside and go golfing to help the West Suburban Community Pantry. The event is the big fundraiser of the year for programs aimed at supporting community members with food insecurity. The day is fun in the sun for a good cause. Lisa Spaeth and her team are hard at work with getting the word out to the community about their annual fundraiser coming up this month! Get Tickets (aesbid.com)
Lisa Spaeth, Director of Development the West Suburban Community Pantry, sat down with us to talk about her role at the Pantry, and how we can support the Pantry’s vision of a community without hunger. Lisa is on a personal mission to give back and has worked as a fundraiser for various nonprofit organizations since college. She is currently serving a two-year board position on the Naperville Jaycees (member since 2005) and also worked for the Naperville Area Humane Society prior to joining the Pantry. She found her footing with corporate donors at the Humane Society. Since 2018, she has served in her current position at the Pantry and loves her job.
This position requires a bold personality and a frankness of discussion while driving toward goals and targets. Lisa and her two employees are tasked with relationship building, finding new opportunities, writing grants, event planning, and marketing. Some activities they outsource to consultants. Ross Creative shoots their photography and helps with creating marketing material. Catherine Ross, also our creative consultant, connected us with Lisa.
In the Community
Lisa shares a heartbreaking statistic that 1 of 3 people that need help with food insecurity do not come forward. A lack of childcare, feeling of “someone else needs it more,” or lack of knowledge of nearby programs contributes to the statistic. The Pantry wants to educate people that it is okay to need more and that they provide many additional services such as helping with SNAP benefits, LIHEAP (home energy program), and a gas card program. Their goal is to find the people in need and take services to them.
The Pantry serves about 68,000 people a year. The number breaks down to 5,600 people shopping the pantry a month. They serve all of DuPage County and part of Will County (Bolingbrook and Romeoville). In November of 2018, they started an in-school pantry in Romeoville where 89% of the children are assisted with free or reduced lunches. The Pantry learned of the school’s need through the community and provides the service as part of their regular programming.
A Virtual Pantry
During the pandemic, the West Suburban Community Pantry changed the way they serve clients. They realized that for many clients, the time it takes to shop the pantry with children or even dealing with emotions tied to shopping at the Pantry can create barriers to accessibility. Understanding this, WSCP launched a virtual food pantry. Clients are able log into the website and pick groceries to add to their cart. The Pantry offers different hours and locations for pick up. Everything is free. They currently have five pickup locations throughout Bolingbrook and Romeoville.
The Pantry partners with different retail partners like Jewel, Aldi, Costco, Amazon Fresh, Pete’s Fresh Market, and others to get food that they can put out right away. They are provided meat via a partnership with Cargill (In 2021 alone, Cargill provided $110.5 million in total charitable contributions in 56 countries.) The rest of the needed staples (rice, potatoes, soup, and canned meat) are purchased from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
How to get involved
Lisa encourages you to take a first-hand look at the pantry. Her goals are to expand reach, increase awareness, and continue growing the number of clients they can serve. The Pantry offers volunteer opportunities that scale to fit your available time.
Come on a weekly basis, come with a business team for one day, come with your family once a month! They welcome everyone and will have a job for you to do such as unloading a truck, sorting food, stocking shelves, and fulfilling virtual food orders. You may also check in customers and do the intake process, help customers shop the pantry, and load carts. Volunteers also drive the trucks to pick up goods from various partners and suppliers.
The 9th Annual Golf Outing:
When: Wednesday, June 22
Where: Seven Bridges Golf Club, One Mulligan Drive, Woodridge
What: 18 holes of golf. Sign up as a foursome or individually.
Includes: Cart, breakfast, lunch, drinks, contests, prizes, program
West Suburban Community Pantry