Local Veterans Could Benefit from Enhanced Food Access with Pantry Expansion

OPRF Food Pantry.jpg

Volunteers with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry sort through fruit. | Wednesday Journal File

Thursday, January 19, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

In a recent statement, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry announced that it will expand its service area to include Hines, where the Freedom’s Path housing complex is located.

With the expansion, the OPRF Food Pantry will service 13 zip codes. Food Pantry officials said in the statement that the expansion to Hines “targets veterans because they are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.”

According to Feeding America, a hunger-related social service organization, 20 percent of U.S. households that the organization services include a veteran.

“Those who served in the U.S. military between 1975 [and] 2001 are significantly more likely to struggle with hunger than their non-military counterparts, or even than veterans who served during other times,” OPRF Food Pantry officials stated. “One in four veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars report food-insecurity.”

Paula Berg, a pantry manager with the OPRF Food Pantry, said that last year she noticed an influx of veterans from Hines coming to the pantry.

“After consulting with donors and stakeholders, we determined we had the ability to serve them,” she said. Last year, Food Pantry officials noted, the Pantry served 382 veterans.

With the newly expanded services, households at Hines’ Freedom Path will qualify to receive over 60 pounds food — including “fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats and non-perishable items” — from the OPRF Food Pantry once a month. VFP

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