Requests for food from the Bags of Hope program have skyrocketed since the start of the Illinois stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bags of Hope is a local nonprofit organization that provides food for District 202 students to take home each weekend. It has received 200 new requests since schools closed in March because of the pandemic and is now serving 28 of the 30 schools in District 202, said Bags of Hope Executive Director and Treasurer Dr. DJ Skogsberg.
On average, Bags of Hope delivers 1,800 bags of food in the fall and 3,200 bags of food in the spring. As of Thursday, May 14, 2020 Bags of Hope has delivered 5,142 bags of food this year, Skogsberg said.
Bags of Hope has had a hard time getting enough food to meet the demand, he said.
Bags of Hope cannot buy in bulk at the grocery stores due to restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, so they have heavily relied on various food drives held throughout the community, said Bags of Hope Chair Lana Howe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it harder to distribute backpacks to students, Skogsberg said. Prior to the pandemic, a small group of 10 volunteer drivers would deliver the full backpacks to the schools to be distributed to students.
“Now, since the shelter-in-place order from the governor, we have had to expand our delivery service to deliver door to door with a much larger pool of drivers,” Skogsberg said.
Each week, 40 volunteer drivers are now delivering bags of food to individual homes, on a no contact basis.
Many of the volunteer drivers are District 202 teachers, social workers and administrators, Howe noted.
“We are definitely thankful for their willingness to help during this time because we definitely need it,” she said. “We cannot thank them enough.”
Bags of Hope needs more non-perishable food donations and monetary donations, which can be made on its website at www.boh2016.org.
“We pride ourselves on the fact that other than general administrative costs, every cent we bring in goes directly to food for the kids,” Skogsberg said.
Plainfield Academy will host a food drive between 9-11 a.m. this Friday, May 15th and next Friday, May 22, 2020 to benefit the Bags of Hope.
Creekside Elementary School will also hold a food drive for Bags of Hope on Monday, May 18, 2020 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4:30 p.m.