MENDOTA – The Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry recently welcomed Tracy Cooper when she took over as executive director the beginning of this month. Outgoing executive director, Beverly Banks has been helping her ease into the position.
Cooper has lived in the area her entire life, mostly in LaMoille. She has worked in various management positions including The Princeton Closet in Princeton. She started working at the food pantry on Oct. 1.
As she steps into her new role, Cooper is already aware of the growing needs of the food pantry.
"With the recent closing of Del Monte, I think we will have more people in the area we will need to serve. I just want to reach out to those people and let them know we are here," she said.
Already, the Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry is serving over 100 families (approximately 320 individuals) in Mendota, Earlville, LaMoille, Meriden, Sublette, Triumph, and Troy Grove.
To sign up to receive assistance, individuals should bring proof of residency. Proof of income is not required. Food is then distributed monthly on Wednesday and Friday from 9-10:30 a.m. Emergency boxes are also available between distribution dates, if needed.
For those wanting to donate to the food pantry, food and monetary donations are always accepted.
Suggested items to donate include: sloppy joe mix, canned beans, canned vegetables, canned ravioli or spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, mashed potatoes, fruit cocktail, soup, pancake mix, tuna fish, and baby food.
Food that is low in sugar, salt, or fat is also needed for those with dietary restrictions.
Kid-friendly food that has an easy open tab (not requiring a can opener) and can be microwaved is another good option of what to donate.
Monetary donations are used to purchase food through Midwest Food Bank and River Bend Foodbank. Cooper noted that usually much more food can be purchased through donated funds. However, any donation is appreciated, she said.
Cooper also pointed out a sparse shelving unit of non-food items.
Non-food items needed include diapers, laundry detergent, quart and gallon size plastic bags, and garbage bags. "We have a huge need for personal items," she stated.
All personal items come through donations only.
Food and non-food donations are accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-11 a.m. Monetary donations may be mailed to Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry, 918 N. Main St., Suite 1, Mendota, IL 61342.
"We are also in need of volunteers to stock shelves and carry in orders," she added.
For more information, the Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry can be reached at (815) 538-2211 or [email protected]