Volunteers gather to feed the hungry
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Updated: December 9, 2012 6:29AM
Students, athletes, grocers, firefighters and a football coach converged Saturday on a grocery store parking lot to quell hunger by distributing 80,000 pounds of frozen chicken to feed those in need.
They joined the Hunger Resource Network and the HEAR Foundation teamed up on this Community Outreach Day.
Northwestern University head football coach Pat Fitzgerald played field general to the to the group of volunteers that included Northbrook firefighters.
“We got an engineer here,” Fitzgerald said at the Sunset Foods lot on Church Street. The engineer – Northbrook Firefighter-Engineer Steve DeLuca – smiled while posing for a snapshot with Fitzgerald.
“We’ve got unbelievably unselfish athletes,” Fitzgerald said, pointing to football players nearby who hoisted brown boxes of frozen chicken like beefy footballs. “The cats give back. So to be able to be a part of this, it’s really special.”
The chicken, which arrived by semi truck, went to more than 50 area agencies, including nine in Evanston, three in Des Plaines, two in Glenview, two in Highwood and one each in Skokie and Highland Park.
The Northfield Township Food Pantry (Glenview) is one local recipient where pantry-certified families are invited to pick up the large bags of protein.
“We started giving away chicken in 2009,” said Greg Antonucci, founder of the HEAR Foundation. “We gave away 40,000 pounds twice a year, and the need keeps growing, that’s the sad part.”
One in six people in the Chicago area have “food insecurity,” Antonucci said.
Volunteers from the Northbrook Fire Department, Northbrook Public Works and Northbrook Civic also participated. Funds from donors and a grant from Village Treasure House helped to buy the chicken from Miller Poultry at a deep discount.
“When I last heard that the Northfield (Township) food pantry has had 650 families in Northbrook and Glenview here that aren’t making enough to put (food) on their table, it’s very sad,” said Bruce Gonzalez, Sunset Foods store manager and a lifelong Northbrook resident.
“We’re a company that likes to give back to the community,” said Ron Benardi, also of Sunset Foods. “Service is our business and like the Rotary (Club) model of service above self, we try to extend that into the community.”~.