Andrea Earnest,Patch Staff
DUPAGE COUNTY, IL — Congressman Bill Foster recently visited the West Suburban Community Pantry in Woodridge, which is facing a 75 percent increase in the need for food and support services, according to a release from the pantry.
The pantry serves DuPage and Will counties, and served over 110,000 people in the past fiscal year.
During Foster’s tour, CEO Suzanne Armato said, “Our facility was designed with a smaller population in mind – we know more space would make this a more dignified experience.”
The increase in pantry visitors has also impacted the pantry’s ability to manage its warehouse and food storage, while seeking to expand culturally preferred food options to be inclusive of all pantry customers, many of whom are newly immigrated to the area, according to a release.
“This past year, we served an incredibly diverse community. Our guests speak over 17 different languages,” Armato said. The Pantry offers shelf signage in English, Spanish and Arabic.
The pantry also offers services like a virtual food pantry, which allows community members to place grocery orders online for easy pick-up at the Woodridge Pantry or an additional six satellite locations, according to a release.
There is also a family birthday gift program. Pantry customers with an upcoming birthday for a young child may choose from an age-appropriate birthday bag kit which include a small gift, ingredients to make a birthday cake, and supplies to host a party with candles, party plates and napkins.
Throughout Foster’s visit, staff showed the Congressman how it is increasing access for families, including the virtual food pantry and the increasing community access points, the in-person Pantry Store with a wide range of produce choices, counseling services focused on crisis stabilization, and wellness education programming, a release states.