Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry holds first Kids' Pop-Up event
The Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry held its first Kids' Pop-Up food distribution event on Jan. 16. Around 130 drivers passed through Simmons Park on Aurora's east side during the two-hour window. The food pantry partnered with Calvary Church of Naperville and the Fox Valley Park District.
A crew of nine people -- made up of volunteers, pantry and church staff -- worked the event. Items handed out included peanut butter and jelly, cereal, oranges, pancake mix, applesauce, canned fruit, juice boxes and hand sanitizer.
Becky Dunnigan, the pantry's community outreach and program coordinator, said they served more than 24,000 children in 2020. These pop-up pantries are specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of children.
"2020 has been a challenging year for Aurora food pantry as the number of families we are serving has quadrupled and sustained at that number throughout the year," Dunnigan said. "Providing for that many families takes volunteers and dollars. We are able to stretch $1 into $8 worth of food with monetary donations."
The pantry would like to expand the kid-focused event once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Future distributions could include larger food selection, school supplies, children's toiletries, socks, clothing accessories, on-site dental exams, fun games and photo opportunities with costumed characters.
Dunnigan said many families don't know how to use the pantry or cannot get there on scheduled distribution days. At the pop up events, families receive information about the pantry and assistance that is available.
Currently, the pantry is looking for donations of canned protein such as tuna and chicken and pasta, pasta sauce and rice. Looking at the bigger picture, Dunnigan said a donated box truck would help keep its food program operating.
For more information, visit aurorafoodpantry.org.