Every Tuesday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM our volunteers greet families from across Boone County who are in need of food assistance. Any person in Boone County who meets the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines can visit our pantry once per month when they bring a photo id and two bills (with their address) to prove their residency in Boone County. After checking in, they are provided the opportunity to visit our Clothing Room and “Non-food” Room (mentioned below). When it’s their turn to utilize the pantry, a personal shopper walks with the client through the pantry space.
We’ve worked to provide a Client Choice pantry, meaning clients can choose which products are best for their family’s needs and personal preferences. This not only provides a grocery store-type experience, but it also reduces waste. Clients always take home a variety of products, spanning from canned fruits and vegetables, to cereals, to fresh produce, and pretty much everything in between! The majority of the food we distribute comes from our relationship with the Northern Illinois Food Bank (where we’re able to acquire food at approximately $.18/lb) and area businesses that donate excess product to our program, but food drives from individuals, schools, churches, and neighborhoods play an important role in feeding our neighbors as well.
When clients have finished making their way through the pantry, volunteers then help them load the products into their car. If a person in need of food is unable to make it to the pantry and is considered homebound, we create boxes for those individuals that then work with RSVP Volunteers to deliver right to their door. Sometimes volunteers even help clients put the groceries away! Overall, through our pantry food distribution program alone, we serve over 1,200 Boone County residents, including dozens of new families, every single month. Many months, especially near the end of the year, we see our numbers dramatically increase. It is the monetary and food donations of individuals, businesses, and foundations that ensure that families in Boone County don’t go hungry.
The second most utilized program of our organization is our Clothing Program. Families can access the seasonally appropriate clothing they need during their visit to the pantry each month. Our clothing comes from donations from individuals from across the county. We separate and organize donated clothing and then allow clients to take whatever they need for the month.
We also occasionally receive clothing donations from local retailers and allow clients to receive new products, such as socks and undergarments. Teachers and staff from local schools visit our pantry throughout the year and pick up clothing for students that come to school wearing the same thing every day or come to school without the proper attire (such as coats, hats, gloves, etc.). We collect coats every year to distribute to families in need.
Our Household Supplies Program, also known as our Non-Food Room, provides clients with the opportunity to receive products that they might not otherwise have access to and that cannot be purchased with SNAP. Some of these items include toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, cough medicine, feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and diapers and baby food (when available). Each client gets a choice of three items per week depending on the amount of product we have available. When available, clients are allowed to take unlimited baby food and protein supplement shakes.
Our Family Gifts program is utilized to ensure that every child under 12 whose family visits our pantry is able to celebrate every holiday throughout the year. We spend all year collecting supplies for each of our giving projects. During Easter, each child receives an Easter Basket filled with candy and goodies. For Valentine Day’s, each child takes home a package of Valentines for their school celebration. When the school year starts, we hand out school supplies so every student, grade 1-12, can start the year off right. During Halloween, every child can pick out a costume so they can go trick-or-treating.
Our largest family gifts program is during the Christmas Season when we organize and wrap hundreds of gifts for underprivileged children across Boone County and distribute them during a celebratory event. Pizza, drinks, and dessert is provided for all of the children who attend and Santa Claus even makes a special visit! We then distribute the presents to each child based on their age and everyone gets to open their gifts together.
BBCFP Quick Facts
- Belvidere/Boone County Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides food and non-food products. The Pantry serves as a bridge to help transition those facing hard times until they become self-sufficient. The goal is to give people hope and make a difference in their lives.
- If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, we distribute food on Tuesdays. All that is needed is a photo ID and two pieces of mail proving that you live in Boone County.
- We serve over 1,200 people per month through our Food Distribution Program alone. We serve hundreds more through the Community Meals we support, through the snack program for local Boone County Schools, and through support of local homeless programs.
- We rely on volunteers to run the various programs that we provide. Anyone 16 and older can volunteer in our facility, contributing to a number of areas in addition to our weekly food distribution day.
- We collaborate with a number of agencies across Northern Illinois to provide food, clothing, household supplies, and furniture to those who need it most.
- We’re located in Capron, IL. In the last 10 years, our agency has expanded from a 4,000 square foot building to a 20,000 square foot campus, including a fleet of 3 trucks. Also, we love to give tours!
- We recycle thousands of pounds of cardboard, metals, and clothing each year. We appreciate donations of these recyclables. The clothing that we can’t use in our facility is sent to developing countries around the world.
- Our donors are the reason this organization exists. It is not without the incredible support of individuals, businesses, corporations, and foundations that we would be able to provide so much to so many who need it.