For the past twelve years, on the second Saturday of each month, the parking lot of Family in Faith Lutheran Church in Glendale Heights filled with neighbors–no matter the weather. Together as one community from many walks of life, recent immigrants and individuals who have had family in the area for generations gathered either to volunteer or to see their own needs met through Family in Faith’s mobile food pantry.
On Sunday, December 12, 2018, Family in Faith celebrated the grand opening of a permanent food pantry on their property. The permanent facility will provide a multitude of increased opportunities for Family and Faith to serve clients of the food pantry.
From a green and white refrigerated truck, in its dozen years of operation more than one million pounds of food was distributed through Family in Faith’s food pantry. After celebrating the grand opening of a permanent structure in December, Pastor Steve Kass hopes the food pantry will be able to grown in such a capacity that they transition from distributing one million pounds of food over the course of just over a decade to distributing one million pounds of food every year.
Formally organized in 1996, Family in Faith, Glendale Heights is a congregation with 70-90 people attending worship each week and a big heart to serve and be present in the community. Pastor Kass told the Daily Herald, “we want to help this underserved community, with real practical needs…we don’t only want to help feed their spiritual needs.”
While previously, the mobile food pantry was available once per month, the permanent food pantry at Family in Faith is open for clients to receive food every first and third Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and every second and fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
With the help of Northern Illinois Food Bank, Family in Faith has always been able to distribute fresh produce and frozen meats from the food pantry in conjunction with several donor grocery store chains. Northern Illinois Food Bank has a “recovery” program which provides a space for grocery stores to donate foods which are close to their due dates. This not only prevents against food being wasted, but it allows clients of the food pantry to receive a more nutritionally balanced selection of foods. The permanent structure will make it easier for grocery stores to drop off food on a regular basis. In previous years with the mobile food pantry, distribution sometimes felt like a race against time and the weather. Some days it was so hot there was concern food would spoil before it could be distributed. Other days, it was so cold, volunteers were racing to get food into the hands of clients in order to minimize the amount of time they had to stand in the cold. The permanent indoor structure has several refrigerators and freezers and will alleviate all of those worries.
The building allows Family in Faith to expand upon other things they give away and provide a space to organize donations in the event of emergencies. The food pantry is also used to give away flu vaccines, coats, hats, gloves, mittens, toys for Christmas, and Bibles. Pets are considered members of the family too, so Family in Faith give dog and cat food to those who need it as well.
Toward the end of 2018, Family in Faith was able to use the building to receive materials for Hurricane Michael alongside Lutheran Church Charities. They were able to collect and send off eleven pallets of flood buckets, tarps, charcoal, and other needed items.
The construction of the permanent food structure was a community effort. Many local organizations including health care providers, local businesses, Neighborhood Food Pantries, and Northern Illinois Food Bank donated toward construction. Thousands of dollars were collected when the church distributed little jars to church members. People, including those who are clients of the food pantry, would drop coins they could spare into the jars. “This really was the Widow’s mite,” Pastor Kass said. Through local organizations and individuals, Family in Faith was able to raise over $200,000 for the construction of the building. To bring the project to completion, Lutheran Church Extension Fund helped Family in Faith with a loan to cover a shortfall. The total cost of the building was $238,800.
Pastor Kass says, “little churches can do a lot too!” As he reflected on the past twelve years of the food pantry and the bright future ahead for the church and community he said, “the pantry not only reaches out to those in need. It also speaks to many people in the community who are very cynical about churches.” The Family in Faith Neighborhood Food Pantry has been a starting point for the church to build relationships with members of their community. From those relationships, they have been able to pray for anyone who has a prayer request.
The food pantry is a tool which has given the believers at Family in Faith opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in their community. They are in this together.
This is #OurNID
Family in Faith, Glendale Heights’ new permanent food pantry will allow clients to shop for food away from the weather. Depending upon their family size, clients can choose a certain number of items from each shelf.
Milestone Video specializes in time laps photography. Watch how the permanent food pantry came together in this time laps which covers 33 days of construction.