August 28, 2008

Cupboard’s Rather Bare for Many Reasons at FISH Food Pantry

By Gerard Dziuba

Not everyone who receives food from the FISH Food Pantry will receive a ham to serve for their Easter dinner.

In fact, it's likely no one will receive a ham.

Unlike years past, donations of the traditional Easter main course have not been made at the Carpentersville-based pantry.

And at $1.55 a pound, volunteers can't afford to buy them with the monetary donations they receive.

"The best we can do is give some of them frozen chicken," said volunteer James Felke. "And we don't even have enough of them to give to everyone. We'll give them until we run out - then we'll give out ground beef and hot dogs."

And fresh produce, forget that. Since the Dominick's store in East Dundee closed last year, no one has donated enough fresh vegetables or fruit to keep up with the growing demand for food.

"We give out potatoes in a can or instant mashed potatoes," he said.

This winter has been long and trying for FISH volunteers. More families have been lining up at their door looking for meals.

Some of the breadwinners in the families work seasonal landscaping jobs and haven't been called back to work yet because it's been too cold. Some of them are from single-parent households who are unemployed. Some are employed but can't afford to support a family with rising food, rent and gasoline prices.

Add them to the constant flow of new families that has recently begun to ask for help.

"When we show up, there's at least 15 families at the door," Felke said.

The pantry, which is in the Meadowdale Shopping Center, along Route 25, is open Monday Wednesday and Friday, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

During a 2-hour shift, FISH volunteers have time to help 44 families. The ones who come after it closes for the day will have to wait until it opens again.

On Friday, families can apply for food stamps. They take away some of the demand, Felke said. But there still is plenty to go around.

FISH depends on food and monetary donations for individuals and groups. Drives that churches, schools and civic groups hold help fill the shelves during the year, but the food goes out as quickly as it is received.

"Easter is early this year, and the weather is still cold; that may have something to do (with the demand)," Felke said. "But we don't have anything special to give out for Easter."

The pantry will be closed March 21 for Good Friday.

For information about its services or to donate food, call (847) 428-4357.

- Send your news about East and West Dundee and Gilberts to Gerard Dziuba c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123, or e-mail to [email protected]@

(c) 2008 Daily Herald; Arlington Heights, Ill.. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.