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Kane shopping spree benefits Fox Valley food pantries

BataviMayor Jeff Schielke participated 13th annual Kane County Farm Bureau-sponsored Food Check-Out Challenge Monday Jewel-Osco Batavia. 'It got intense' mayor

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke participated in the 13th annual Kane County Farm Bureau-sponsored Food Check-Out Challenge Monday at the Jewel-Osco in Batavia. "It got intense," the mayor said of his first charity food shopping spree. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 19, 2014 6:26AM

A store manager blurted over the store speaker at the Jewel-Osco on Randall Road in Batavia on Monday that this was not going to be your ordinary day at the market.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke and state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) raced two shopping carts draped in tinsel fringe in their respective high school colors down the aisles for the 13th annual Grocery Shopping Spree to benefit two local food pantries.

Schielke filled several grocery carts on behalf of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry in about seven minutes’ time, while Kifowit did the same for the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry in Aurora.

Steve Arnold, manager of the Kane County Farm Bureau, said the event could not be done without the willingness of the participants.

“Their hearts are in the right places,” Arnold said.

The competitors aimed for such products as peanut butter, tuna and spaghetti sauce, as well as other, pricey items that will make it to the cupboards of families having difficulty making ends meet.

Competitive edges

Schielke had home court advantage, as both a regular shopper at the Jewel-Osco in Batavia and having the honors as mayor to cut the grand opening ribbon for the store 23 years ago.

“It did get intense,” Schielke said of his first charity food checkout challenge.

Kifowit said she tried to minimize the number of times she grabbed cans off the shelves, and slipped into casual attire, to give her the advantage of running down the store aisles.

“I grabbed the cans stacked by two to avoid multiple swipes,” Kifowit said. “I did change into my tennis shoes for extra traction.”

Representatives from both the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry and Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry said their facilities provide groceries for hundreds of families each month.

“This will give us a lot of food items we would not normally receive,” said Linda Dahms-Firth, director of the Batavia food pantry.

The Kane County Farm Bureau-sponsored shopping sprees have donated nearly $30,000 in groceries to local food pantries since the inception of the event.

The Batavia Jewel-Osco has hosted the food checkout challenge since its inception and assists families with its own food and recovery program.

Another co-sponsor of Monday’s event was the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva.

Kifowit’s groceries totaled $1,273 in the food checkout line. Schielke’s groceries came in a close second with $1,227. Together, the grand total of $2,500 surpassed last year’s contestants by nearly $300.

“Hopefully, together we pulled in lot of food for the pantries,” Kifowit said. “So many people need help.”

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