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February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I am just starting as a volunteer but it is easy to see that these folks are dedicated to their cause. The organizing of volunteers is exceptional and their system of/for distribution seems very well thought out.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Not yet applicable

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Not yet applicable

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I began working at the Oak Park-River Forest Pantry early last fall, when they were rolling out their new concept of client choice. Under this system, clients are given choices of nutritious foods so that they can pick out items that fit the needs and tastes of their families. I am delighted to be part of an organization that provides such vital services at a really good price, combining donated food items with food purchased through the Chicago Food Depository.

A shift on distribution at the Pantry is very special. Volunteers are cheerful and kind, and the dignity of the clients is always preserved. We help them with food choices, give them carts and bags to shop with, and provide valet help to get their items to their cars. We treat the clients as honored customers, and their reactions are often very touching. I hear comments like "Thank God for the Pantry," and "God bless you for caring about us" frequently. As a volunteer, I feel that my time is appreciated and that the Pantry is very well organized. It is a wonderful place to volunteer, and is a wonderful cause to support, one that uses resources thoughtfully and carefully, and treats clients with kindness and respect. I am proud to be a part of this organization, and support it's efforts financially when I am able to do so.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

watching the client responses during my distribution shifts.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can't think of any changes that are needed.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I have been involved with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry for about 1 year as a board member. At first I knew almost nothing about food insecurity, who used food pantries or how they operated. My first meeting with staff opened my eyes and I instantly saw a group of dedicated professionals who work diligently and compassionately to serve and educate the families in need. Even though the Pantry has seen demand double in the last two years, you wouldn't know it from watching a food distribution. Our clients receive the same amount of food and have seen an improvement with more fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, dairy and meat, thanks to our successful fundraising efforts and a service volunteer dedicated soley to "gleaning" food from area supermarkets and the local farmer's markets. We provide that food using a more dignified "client choice" model, allowing our clients to choose their own food, a much more satisfying way to provide hunger relief for us volunteers. We offer nutritional informaton, including sample recipes using food available at the Pantry, at every distribution. And there's a dedicated staff person, an Americorps worker, who helps people apply for SNAP benefits. We do all of this with a small, dedicated staff and about 700 volunteers in a space not much bigger than a two-car garage and a bare-bones budget. I have been involved with a number of nonprofits in my community and I have rarely seen a nonprofit run as efficiently and effectively as this one. I am proud to be associated with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

watching hundreds of people from all walks of life, from just about every community in our 28 zip code service area, get food relief from a dedicated team of volunteers and staff.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

help it find a larger location to meet the needs of more hungry families - giving the pantry more storage and a larger distribution area with fewer steps to climb.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

Such a well organized, clean, friendly place to volunteer. You can tell that everyone really cares for people and wants to do the best to help.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

In seeing how hard people work and volunteer to help keep it going.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

It's pretty well organized. I don't know what I'd do to change things.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

This place is awesome. The staff are caring and helpful, and never seem to tire of doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. It has been so intense in the last few years, volume has increase gigantically. And they are always graceful about changing to accommodate the needs of their clients. It is also very welcoming to clients. I bring my children to help bag food and they really enjoy it. The first time the kids came, the staff helped him celebrate his birthday, what a wonderful way for a child to celebrate his birthday!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See above

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

See above

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is an integral member of the community. They work in partnership with a wide spectrum of organizations and businesses to involve people and put a face to those needing food support. My children, as Boy Scouts, went door to door last month to collect food for the pantry. They gained a new appreciation for those not as fortunate as themselves and a pride in spending time helping those not as fortunate as themselves.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Several years ago I was a volunteer at the pantry and witnessed the benefit of its efforts.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I currently have no recommendations.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I was never very much for being one who chips in to help others, but a good friend of mine is a volunteer and she talked me into going and helping one Saturday. I actually went just to try to score points with her and I was not really caring about the pantry at all. They started me off in the bagging of the food area, I did not have much reaction with the patrons but got to see a lot of good people and kids working their butts off to load all the bags. As i was putting the food in the bags I got the feeling how lucky I was that I could afford food and how unfortunate that everyone does not have that same luxury as I do. It was a eye opener to see that there are unfortunate people and that all of us together can help.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seen the happy faces of people kowing there are places out there like this to help them in times of need

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

let more people know that there are places like this and that they could use all the help they can get

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

I have only been volunteering for a month but am already very impressed.
The client choice program is wonderful. Last night at the distribution I saw an amazing variety of food items in their carts. Fresh bread, produce and several meat choices too. The organization is very well run and the
all the people I have met are very involved and passionate about what they do. I am happy to be part of service.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen the happy faces of the clients coming in for their food. I made someone's day yesterday simply by digging into the bottom of the vegetable bin last night and finding a can of corn.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find a bigger facility...which I believe is in the works. Still for the small space the pantry is extremely efficient.

February 24, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 24, 2011

The demand for OPRF Food Pantry services has grown enormously over the past few years, and the Pantry has stepped up amazingly well to deliver excellent services with good cheer and great volunteer support. The paid staff really watches out for opportunities to involve volunteers in a variety of ways - picking up food donations, sorting, and registering clients as well as "playing grocer" in the "client-choice" style setting. It ends up being fun, and volunteers get to know one another across age, gender and racial lines - very enjoyable place to work.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

making me feel more a part of my local community and to understand hunger.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

get the word out to more potential volunteers and donors.

February 23, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 23, 2011

The OPRF Food Pantry is extremely well run. The staff seem to be always attempting to make the experience for clients (& volunteers too) more efficient, more streamlined, more pleasant and welcoming.
The new methods of food distribution instituted last fall is hugely successful. But instead of
letting well-enough alone, the staff is constantly fine-tuning the process, making the "shopping" experience more efficient, faster, and still permitting a great deal of choice for the client. Very impressive!
I'm always impressed by the positive attitudes the staff and more experienced volunteers have toward both clients and volunteers. Everyone is treated with respect.
The OPRF Food Pantry is an prime example of a not-for-profit organization which carries out its mission with supreme commitment and with virtually no overhead or administrative waste.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The satisfaction, appreciation that the clients feel after "shopping" at the OPRF Food Pantry.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

They need more space -- but where they are presently, I'm sure the "price" is right -- moving would probably be cost-prohibitive.

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