Northfield Township will have new food pantry, new distribution process
Mary Lou Kratochwill, Northfield Township Food Pantry coordinator, rearranges bagels inside of the food pantry.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:45AM
GLENVIEW — Northfield Township Food Pantry is following the lead of the Greater Chicago Food Depository by allowing clients to choose their own food, similar to grocery stores.
Currently, the pantry gives clients pre-packed bags of food without their own choosing.
Yet, township trustees want to switch over to a “client choice” model when the township moves into a new building in late summer or fall at 3000 Avenue E, Glenview.
Township Supervisor Jill Brickman said trustees recently agreed to the program because it afforded clients more dignity by shopping for their own needs and families.
“The client choice system is less paternalistic and more appropriate for their own dietary needs,” she said.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository has used the choice model for several years, said Jim Conwell, communications manager for the longstanding nonprofit.
“In addition to more dignity, it cuts back on food waste and costs. Clients get only what they need. There’s more satisfaction,” he said.
“And there’s more interaction because our volunteers are assisting clients in selecting food.”
Wheeling Township has a choice program in place, where food orders and donations can be pinpointed, said Julie Villarreal, director of general assistance for Wheeling Township.
Northfield Township volunteers will sort food, help clients on the floor, check out clients and restock shelves.
More than 100 volunteers devote time to the pantry, and it recently formed its own fundraising arm — the Pantry Advisory Board.
According to the Chicago Food Depository, 807,700 people in Cook County are unaware from where or when their next meal will come, while 2,600 in Glenview are in the same category.
The Northfield Township Food Pantry currently serves 735 certified families to use the facility.
“Those are high, high numbers,” said Mary Lou Kratochill, food pantry coordinator for Northfield Township that serves unincorporated areas of Northfield, Northbrook and Glenview.
“People may want rice instead of potatoes, bagels instead of brand and only 2 percent milk. It’s a great idea,” she said.
Township Trustee Carol Blustein said no additional funds were needed for the program, adding the new township building was better designed for client choice.
“They can move around and see and choose what foods they will consume,” she said.
The new Northfield Township administrative building and FoodPantry will remain in Glenview near The Glen. For $560,000, township trustees recently agreed to purchase the office and warehouse of a former cement company.
“The things that appealed to us were the new offices and especially the warehouse with a high ceiling for storing food for the pantry,” Brickman said. “The configuration gives us a lot more room and efficiency for serving the people. We’ve been looking for a couple of years.” The township has rented first-floor space at 3801 W. Lake Ave. next to Glenbrook South High School since the 1970s, Brickman said, adding the current rent was $6,018 a month. The building’s owner, Glenbrook High School District 225, has administrative offices on the second and third floors and wants to occupy the first level.
The Northfield Township FoodPantry was started more than 30 years ago to provide township residents with enough food for themselves and their families.