Aurora Interfaith Meals Pantry hosts the primary pop-up occasion for youngsters

The Aurora Region Interfaith Pantry held its first pop-up food distribution event for children on January 16. During the two-hour window, around 130 drivers drove through Simmons Park on the east side of Aurora. The pantry worked with the Calvary Church of Naperville and the Fox Valley Park District.

A nine-person crew – consisting of volunteers, pantry, and church staff – worked on the event. Items distributed included peanut butter and jelly, cereal, oranges, pancake mix, applesauce, canned fruit, juice boxes, and hand sanitizer.

Becky Dunnigan, the pantry’s public relations and program coordinator, said they looked after more than 24,000 children in 2020. These pop-up pantries are specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of children.

“2020 has been a challenging year for Aurora’s pantry as the number of families we care for has quadrupled and sustained over the year,” said Dunnigan. “So many families require volunteers and dollars. With monetary donations, we can turn $ 1 worth of food into $ 8 worth of food.”

A volunteer directs traffic during the first passable children’s pop-up pantry of the Interfaith Food Pantry in Aurora Area on January 16 at Simmons Park in Aurora. Around 130 drivers were served at the event.
– Courtesy of Al Benson

The pantry wants to expand the child-centric event once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Future distributions could include a wider variety of groceries, school supplies, children’s toiletries, socks, clothing accessories, on-site dental exams, fun games, and photo opportunities with costumed characters.

Dunnigan said many families do not know how to use the pantry or cannot get there on scheduled distribution days. The pop-up events give families information about the pantry and the support available.

Volunteers load a vehicle during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry's first passable children's pop-up pantry in Simmons Park in Aurora.

Volunteers load a vehicle during the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry’s first passable children’s pop-up pantry in Simmons Park in Aurora.
– Courtesy of Al Benson

The pantry is currently looking for donations for canned protein such as tuna and chicken, as well as pasta, noodle sauce, and rice. Looking at the bigger picture, Dunnigan said a donated van would help keep the food program going.

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