IFSC Guest Blog Series by Jeannine Kannegiesser, Northern Illinois Food Bank

Last year, Northern Illinois Food Bank distributed 57 million meals throughout 13 northern Illinois counties, serving 71,500 people weekly through collaborations with 800 member feeding programs. Food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers donated 80 percent of the food distributed, including fresh produce and meat, which is picked up weekly through the Retail Recovery Program. Much of this donated food would have gone to waste if not for the food bank’s partnerships with retailers whose employees set aside food for our hungry neighbors.

How the Food Bank Reduces Food Waste
Northern Illinois Food Bank is proud to be facilitating food donations to feed people in our communities. Food safety is a priority for the Food Bank. During food sorting shifts, volunteers remove items that are past their prime to ensure that network members receive high-quality, fresh product that can be distributed in a timely manner. The Food Bank donates a portion of these past-prime items to farmers for use in animal feed (bread and meat). Prior to this year, there was no reliable diversion strategy in place for produce waste.

Man sorting potatoes into a bin

Potato sorting is part of the Food Bank’s efforts to ensure fresh and safe food for those who rely on food assistance from member feeding programs. Past-prime potatoes now can be diverted from the landfill.

With the opening of a new Recycling Area this past summer, Northern Illinois Food Bank initiated a food scrap diversion program that diverted 34 tons of food scrap from the landfill during its first two months in operation. During those same two months, the Food Bank provided nearly 6,000 tons of food for those in need – the equivalent of 9.75 million meals. The Food Bank collects food scrap in a composting compactor instead of a landfill dumpster and a hauler transports food scrap to a commercial composting facility where it is transformed into food scrap enriched compost, a high quality soil amendment that enriches soil, retains moisture, and reduces erosion.

Man operating a machine which is tipping a wheeled bin.

The composting compactor has a cart-tipper to ease the transfer of heavy loads of food scrap into the collection chamber.

Get Involved with Northern Illinois Food Bank
The Food Bank is grateful to more than 400 food donors making a significant contribution to the hunger solution in northern Illinois. Food growers, manufacturers, or retailers interested in donating to Northern Illinois Food Bank are invited to contact the food sourcing team at the West Suburban Center in Geneva at 630-443-6910 or learn more by visiting SolveHungerToday.org.

The Food Bank’s organizational goal is to distribute 75 million meals annually to provide every meal, every day, for every hungry neighbor by 2020. The Food Bank relies on strong volunteer involvement for nearly every aspect of our work sorting and repacking food for distribution. Register for a volunteer shift today or learn more about our Skills Based Volunteer program at SolveHungerToday.org.

Those in need of food assistance can search for a local food distribution site through an interactive map at SolveHungerToday.org/get-help.

Additional Info

Jeannine Kannegiesser
Development Officer/Corporations & Foundations
Northern Illinois Food Bank
273 Dearborn Court
Geneva, IL 60134
630-443-6910 ext. 118