Local food pantries stock up for holidays


Marylin Chopp hands out bagels at the St. Cletus food pantry (Lonnroth/LION).

Lars Lonnroth, Managing editor of Breaking News/ Multimedia content

The holiday season is a time that often instills a spirit of giving among many people, with many groups organizing food drives and engaging in other charitable activity.

While the LT community is not as impoverished as some areas in the city or the suburbs, Director of Social Concerns Kendall Grant at St. Cletus Parish said that this community also has charitable needs and issues with food insecurity, too.

“It happens right here in our own community,” said Grant, who helps run St Cletus’ food pantry. “It happens to students who you go to school with—it happens to families that you know.”

The parish is among a collective of churches and other charitable organizations in our area that seek to help those in need during the holiday season and year round.

As part of their holiday festivities, both of LT’s Discovery Centers (DC) are collecting canned and nonperishable items during school and during their Holiday Write Night festivities. The food will then be donated to the St. Cletus and St. Francis food pantries, 18-year Holiday Write Night veteran Mary Craggs said.

“We once gathered up to 85 Xerox boxes of food at one time,” Craggs said. “Some people come after Holiday Write Night and say, ‘We’ve had so much fun but we forgot our canned goods.’ Then they buy an entire case of peanut butter. They bring in boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese. They bring in Ramen noodles. I mean, people are really giving.”

The Holiday Write Night food drive takes place Dec. 3 to Dec. 7, with students able to drop off non-perishable food items at the DC of either campus.

St Francis Parish’s Outreach Director Mary Freeman said that—while they do see around 25 to 50 mores households visiting the pantry during the holidays—there is significant need year round.

“I think there’s a natural inclination because of Thanksgiving and Christmas [to give back] because we do see higher need that time of year,” Freeman said. “But I always appreciate when a group asks ‘is there anything we can do in spring?’”

While many people in the area may try to volunteer at organizations outside of the LT area, Grant emphasized that there are individuals in the community that have a need for charitable assistance.

“I think people are used to knowing that they can volunteer in Chicago and go on mission trips someplace else, but it may not be as glamorous as volunteering in your neighborhood,” Grant said. “But there’s really a lot of needs right here.”