Community comes together to help build new home for Kendall County Food Pantry
By Steve Lord firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2013 8:02PM
The new Kendall County Food Pantry facility has plenty of warehouse space to hold items to help those in need in the county. | Steve Lord~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 15, 2013 6:38AM
YORKVILLE — At one point, Maria Spaeth was unsure if this week would ever happen.
The Kendall County Food Pantry, which she directs, had just purchased an old, 36,000-square-foot industrial building across the street from its long-time location in the Fox Industrial Park in Yorkville.
The building was affordable because they got it through foreclosure, but it needed a lot of work. Pantry officials also had just found out they were turned down for a grant to renovate the building.
“I thought, how are we going to rehab this building?” Spaeth said.
But what happened after that is what Spaeth this week referred to as “the power of volunteerism.” People from almost every organization in the county came out to donate money, give time, work on the building or even volunteer friends and family to work on it.
“There probably isn’t one organization who hasn’t somehow impacted this,” Spaeth said. “And that’s how this came to being.”
This is the newly rehabbed and open Kendall Food Pantry, twice the size of the old one, with not only plenty of warehouse space and shelves for food and clothing, but space for clients to check in without having to wait outside, and a play place for children whose parents are shopping.
Increasing the size of the pantry was a longtime goal of Spaeth and pantry volunteers. The pantry serves about 7,000 clients a month now, compared to about 6,700 a month just three years ago, and only 2,200 five years ago.
This week, the pantry celebrated its new space with an open house, showing off bright colors and well-lit open areas. Many of those who helped in some way to renovate the building showed up to celebrate and cut the ribbon on the new building, and even Spaeth got a chance to catch her breath a little in the midst of a celebration she was unsure would ever take place.
“This has truly been a project underway for two years,” Spaeth said. “And it was completed on the backs of volunteers and contributions.”
The Kendall Pantry is an all-volunteer organization, at that includes even Spaeth herself. Spaeth said volunteers have increased dramatically as the pantry’s drive to educate people about the need in the county has increased.
With the economy the way it has been, and the county’s growth, Kendall residents have seen the need.
“It’s no longer a case of, ‘we don’t need it,’” she said.
Despite the new space, Spaeth is unsure if the pantry can expand food distribution beyond one day a week. Right now, food will be distributed at the new building on Thursdays, just as it was in the old space.
Spaeth said adding a second distribution day is always a possibility, but she said many of the pantry’s clients are used to Thursdays, even to the point of planning their transportation options for that day, including carpooling and helping each other get to the industrial park on Yorkville’s southeast side.
Spaeth said the clients themselves would control when it’s time to add another distribution.
“When they let me know, now’s the time, that’s the time,” she said.