PRINCETON — With Easter less than three weeks away, the Tri-County Opportunities Council Food Pantry is working to provide Easter dinner baskets for its patrons this year.
Director Vanessa Hoffeditz said the food pantry will distribute 112 Easter dinner baskets this year. The baskets will be distributed April 17. The food for the baskets has all been ordered, so the baskets will all be the same; but money is needed to cover the cost of the food, she said.
There will be a waiting list for the Easter baskets, and the waiting list people will be called if someone does not show up on April 17 for his/her basket, Hoffeditz said.
Beyond the special Easter basket monetary needs, Hoffeditz said the food pantry “needs everything” for its regular distribution.
Located at 1019 N. Main St. in Princeton, the food pantry served a total of 329 households in January and February, which is about 100 more households this year than at this time a year ago, Hoffeditz said.
Looking at possible reasons for the increase, Hoffeditz said she thinks people are still experiencing challenges with the economy. The costs of food is increasing for everyone. She’s also hearing the recent cuts in food stamps are making it hard for families to stretch those dollars from the start of the month to the end. Folks are not only getting less in food stamps, but some are also getting their food stamps later in the month, which can be a big strain on a household, she said.
As far as specific needs at the food pantry, Hoffeditz said the basics are always needed, things like macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce and noodles, Hamburger and Tuna Helper, tuna, cereal, toiletries, soaps and paper products.
Starting in April, the food pantry will begin a new program made available through a $1,000 donation from a gentleman who wants to remain anonymous, Hoffeditz said. The money has been designated by the donor to provide slices of pie from Myrtle’s Cafe and Pie for patrons of the food pantry, which is such a nice extra treat for the patrons, she said.
Not only does this new program support a local business, but it also provides something which the food pantry itself couldn’t have done. Once the donation money is spent, maybe someone else will step up to help continue the program, she said.
The bottom line is the food pantry exists to help people in the community who are hungry, Hoffeditz said, adding with all the changes to the food stamps program and the increasing costs of food in the stores, families are having to stretch their dollars more than ever before.
“The food pantry is here to help fill that gap for families,” she said.
The food pantry is open for food distribution from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Financial donations may be sent to 1019 N. Main St., Princeton, IL 61356. Food and product donations are generally accepted from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but people are encouraged to call ahead to make sure someone is at the pantry.
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