The DeKalb County Community Gardens reached a milestone in August, having distributed a cumulative 1 million pounds of food to DeKalb County residents to date, according to a news release.
Beginning in May of this year, DeKalb County Community Gardens has been coordinating the distribution of emergency food to DeKalb County communities, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and a significantly increased need.
These free food distributions are made possible by the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Each month, upward of 3,000 pounds of food is shared with thousands of residents in Sandwich and DeKalb. The organization also distributes to Genoa, Kingston and other places around the county. This federal program, under the CARES Act, is designed to provide financial assistance to U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses, giving them the ability to absorb sales losses and increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the news release.
In the final leg of the program, the USDA partners with regional and local food distributors in areas where the workforce has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 to distribute these agricultural commodities – fresh produce, dairy and meat. In the DeKalb County region, the Northern Illinois Food Bank connects these producers with food pantries, community- and faith-based organizations and other nonprofits serving those living with food insecurity.
Instrumental in bringing these very short notice “pop-up markets” are Denise Curran, of Sandwich, and Joey Hager Moore, of DeKalb. Both women have strong ties to their communities and are actively involved in projects and organizations that bring valuable resources to those in need, according to the release.
It was her church, St. Paul the Apostle, that connected Denise, and husband Jerry, with DCCG.
The church sponsors and hosts DCCG’s Grow Mobile every fourth Tuesday to bring free food to Sandwich area residents.
Jerry is the man behind the scenes packing food boxes at the DCCG warehouse and setting up and cleaning up after each distribution. Jerry also ensures food is delivered to home-bound residents of The Manor. Denise recruits and coordinates volunteers. Together, they manage the bi-monthly food distributions while other parishioners spend afternoons delivering food to residents unable to come to the pop-up distributions.
Currently, Joey is DCCG’s garden coordinator for DeKalb School District 428 and afternoon director of Barb Food Mart.
Each month this summer, Curran and Hager-Moore worked with shipment and distribution logistics and planning, food sorting, recruiting and organizing volunteers and COVID-19 safety requirements.
These events have become a community affair,” said Denise Curran, a lifelong Sandwich resident. “The high school sports teams help with distribution and I have had so many community members volunteer, too.”
“Many families are excited to be able to help distribute to their neighbors in need,” Joey Hager Moore said. “This is one way that we can come together as a community to help each other.”
The CFAP program is anticipated to continue through October 2020.
Starting in September, CFAP food distributions will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church 830 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb, and Harvest Chapel, 725 S. County Line Road, Sandwich. These locations are a change from previous CFAP food distributions. Follow DeKalb County Community Gardens, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church on Facebook for the latest information.
For more information about future CFAP distributions or mobile food pantry, email Elijah Saucedo, DCCG Community Food Needs Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about future food distributions in Sandwich, email Denise Curran at email@example.com.
DeKalb County Community Gardens is a local nonprofit that takes an innovative approach to end hunger and food insecurity in DeKalb County by providing access to healthy, sustainable foods through community education and participation. DCCG works to end hunger in DeKalb County by growing thousands of pounds of sustainably grown produce each year for distribution to individuals and families in need.