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Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry

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Community Stories

57 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 1

I was offered an opportunity to participate in a once a month home delivery. This is not an "entitlement" program, one must qualify as I did.
After a few months I received a telephone call from my case manager that they had received a call questioning my eligibility as I walk my dog , drive a car and, why I am eligible with a "temporary" disability.
I contacted the food pantry speaking with various individuals and, getting various versions of who had made the call.
I know one person, a volunteer at this pantry with whom I had a falling out over a petty matter and, have not spoken to in over a year. I have had an encounter or two during this past year and, this person doesn't speak and, turns away as though they do not know me. This person knows I have a dog, a car and I fractured my femur. Any volunteer making a delivery would only know I have a dog.
I know this person is responsible and, it was a malicious personal attack. Why would I be singled out and, by people who do not know me?
I walk my dog not only as a necessity but, as part of therapy to rebuild my leg and hip muscles and, this walk consists of usually one block. My car which, I purchased new in 2003 basically sits parked only used if, I am in need of groceries or a prescription which, at the most is perhaps once a month. The mobility in my knee has been greatly reduced due to the trauma and, it is very difficult to drive. Also, a "temporary" disability must be based on their assumption that it was "just" a broken leg. I was transferred to a trauma center requiring internal fixation, blood transfusions, months in bed and then physical therapy. My disability is permanent not temporary. Also, I have had two surgeries this past year for breast cancer which, they would have no knowledge of.
My complaints regarding this matter have been met with denials of any malicious intent, excuses and, basically that staff and volunteers have been spoken to.
I feel this volunteer who crossed the line making calls that were not their responsibility and, none of their business should have been removed. What is this person saying about me and, perhaps others.
I have serious concerns about privacy with this organization. I believe as a volunteer or staff they will protect you but, as a client you are unimportant and, disposable.
I requested twice to speak with this organization's board and, that request was ignored, never addressed in any manner. I finally sent an email to the Board of Directors President asking the date, time and location of the next board meeting and that was ignored. I then sent an email to the Executive Director asking for the same information and received a terse response that the meetings were not open to the public and, they would have no further correspondence with me regarding this matter.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Everyone on staff is laser-focused on fulfilling the mission, and they do it in the most professional and compassionate way. Clients who visit the Pantry go away with almost 50 pounds of protein rich, nutrient dense food and their dignity intact. It is a pleasure to be associated with an organization so effectively engaged in helping our neighbors in need.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I offered to join the board because of my interest in and work in food. I assumed a new 501(c)3 organization would need board members. I then started volunteering on distributions, food rescue and deliveries. Now, as vice president, I help recruit new members to the board. The pantry is a great agency with a dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers. Our clients are well-served and treated with dignity.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a board member and occasional volunteer. I have been impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers and their genuine empathy for the clients. The client choice model is efficient and affirming.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started coming with my teen-agers for service credit. It was such a great experience, that I now attend without them. But it is a very popular place to volunteer, so plan ahead in case there are too many staffed volunteers that same day! It is a lovely, dignified exchange between volunteers and clients.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

OPRF Food Pantry is one of the best pantries in Cook County, now serving 1400 families every month. The pantry offers full, client-choice service to its clients, along with nutrition programs, benefits counseling, and food stamp (SNAP) application assistance. The staff and volunteers are inspiring people--working consistently above and beyond the call to provide superior service to our client base. The pantry serves not just the near west suburbs, but most of the west side of the city, and counts on hundreds of individual donors. But we need more support, especially from our corporate and foundation partners, to keep our services strong.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I moved to Oak Park this apst summer and was thrilled to get involved in the community by volunteering at the Food Pantry. The other volunteers are so much fun to work with, and it is a joy to serve our clients.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a volunteer with and donor to the OPRF Food Pantry becuase it addresses a basic need for many area families in an efficient and respectful manner.

The OPRF Food Pantry leverages its resources extremely well in the following ways:

- Clients can select their food just as in a supermarket, receiving meat, dairy, fresh and canned vegetables and fruit, pasta, PB&J, snack foods and toiletries.
- Information about other forms of assistance is provided to clients, as well as dietary and menu planning help
- Pantry offerings are efficiently procured by leveraging funds for food purchases from the USDA and Greater Chicago Food Depository, 'rescuing' day-old (but still perfectly fine!) produce and baked goods from area grocery stores and taking in food donations
- The Pantry is effectively overseen by a volunteer Board and small paid staff, who coordinate all the operations and recruit/organize a large stable of volunteers

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

me a satisfying sense of doing something specific to assist. I plan to volunteer as long as I am able.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I worked at the Food Pantry for a number of years before joining the Board. I agreed to joi the Board because OPRF Food Pantry is not only providing an absolutely needed service in the community, it does it with caring, friendliness and the ability to make each guest comfortable. The expansion of the Client Choice program is an example of how the OPRF Food Pantry team looks to take any stigma out of needing to use the Pantry. Kathy Russell and her team are absolutely the best!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a very organized group and personally very rewarding to volunteer for. The new shoppers choice system is so excellent as the food recipients are treated as if in a grocery store with a choice of items . This system is more dignified for the recipients. Also with this shoppers choice system I think there is less wasted food as in the past many people received food they couldn't use (due to allergies or diabetes, etc.). Sometimes now a person will just bypass the fruit (for example) if they cannot take the sugar. As a vlounteer you are slotted in a spot when you arrive and become productive right away. There is sufficient training for new volunteers also.

I also enjoy the seasonal give-aways of turkeys or hams with the lottery. My only complaint is that some recipients didn't know they had received the ham/turkey (via lottery). I am not sure if it is the food pantry's fault but a number of people came who did NOT receive the ham/turkey and also many whose names were drawn did NOT show up. Volunteers were on the phone calling those who had not shown up at the last minute. I am not sure how to improve the lottery process.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Nice people in need. Nice people who volunteer. Sorry, I think that says it all.

Review from Guidestar

Julie H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I love volunteering at the OPRF Food Pantry. Everyone is so friendly, warm, caring and fun to be around! We enjoy meeting the clients and sharing a smile. This pantry is so well-organized, so well-run, it's just unbelievable. I have also referred some people to use the pantry as clients and they come back to me with glowing reports. This is a real gem of our community. Keep up the good work!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for the pantry for nearly two years and have been surprised by the constant growth in the need for services and impressed by the pantry's ability to not only keep up to meet demand, but improve their services at the same time. The organization and layout of the space has improved, client choice (shopping) added and the food choices expanded to include healthful whole grains, fresh produce and dairy. From a business perspective it is great how involved the pantry is in the community--the directors write the local papers, look for grants and push for creative food and fund drives. Their dedication assures the health and growth of this great source of help for those in need.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful volunteer experience because:

you always meet other interesting people;
there is plenty of meaningful work to be done;
the atmosphere is organized and well run;
your time is well used and appreciated;
the leadership is superior;
your efforts are needed and valued; and
there is a wonderful variety of work to be done!

I highly recommend this "work"!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I moved to Oak Park about five years ago and was looking for a volunteer opportunity. I found the Food pantry. Five years ago we served perhaps 50 families on a busy Wednesday and maybe 75 on a busy Saturday. This past November we served 320 families on the Saturday before Thanksgiving! We are open each Wednesday and Saturday and each shift I see some familiar faces but also new faces filled with hunger, as well as shame and fear at having to visit a food pantry in order to feed themselves and their families. The extraordinary directors and staff welcome everyone and make sure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We all know we are but one disaster away from standing in line ourselves. We offer not only food but respect and a kind word or a joke. We offer hot cocoa on cold days and books to take home all the time. We do our best to fill specific needs. We offer fresh produce and bakery bread. We have an on site nutritionist. We carry the groceries to the cars. We have great volunteers and generous donors. The Client Choice model which allows clients to push a shopping cart and make their own selection so far surpasses the former model of just presenting clients with bags of groceries. Our touch is kind and personal. We have signage in Spanish and as often as possible translators on site. The phenomenal Walk In Ministry shares our space and works so hard to make our clients' lives easier.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As an interior designer I have worked with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry to decorate their space and have been impressed many times at the concern of the staff and volunteers about their environment. They very much want to provide services with dignity and grace and realize that the appearance of the pantry can contribute to that objective.
Not every social service agency takes this extra step. I applaud them in their efforts and their acknowledgement that feeding the soul is an important part of feeding the body.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at the food pantry for almost a year now. In that year it has changed (gotten even better) since October of 2010. That is when we changed to give our clients the experience of shopping at a grocery store and enabling them to make their own choices of food, toiletries, etc. Instead of being given a 'hand-out' of pre-packed bags of food, the clients are now given the opportunity to be in control and exercise their choice. This method of distribution has provided a great opportunity for the volunteers to interact with our clients, and each other. When I volunteer at distribution I always, always get such thanks from the clients and I always leave so thankful for what I have. I also find the volunteers interact with other volunteers much more with the current method of distribution. It's good to know your fellow volunteer.

The food pantry provides many different opportunities to volunteer-weekly distributions of food (registration, distribution of food, valeting, set ups for distribution, produce/bread rescues, unloading delivery of food, clean ups and miscellaneous events. There is something for everyone-individual, family, young, old, physically active or slower paced.

It is amazing to me what the food pantry is able to do with the limited resources it has on hand. But, that is do to the dedicated office staff, many volunteers and the very generous support from the community. Support comes in many forms for the food pantry. Hundreds of hours are volunteered during a month, but the pantry also receives many donations of food and toiletries, as well as cash. While cash is the best donation for the food pantry (as 1$ can be used to buy 11$ of food), it is amazing what the community does to support the food pantry. From an annual Girl Scout drive, to random food drives by local school children, local businesses, local churches, boy scouts, neighborhoods and even families growing a summer garden and donating fresh produce.

This food pantry is a truly amazing place to volunteer. You will get back much more than you give, I promise.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i have been there only a year and a half and they are a excellent bunch of people and they have excellent service and i would say that they handle the place exsquitely well

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with the food pantry for over a year after retiring from 40 years of social service work. At first I hestitated to volunteer for the food pantry fearing I would have to continue to experience under staffing, few resources and general failure to meet customer needs. However, I have found my volunteer work with the food pantry to be very rewarding. It is a well run organization with staff and volunteers dedicated to the customers they serve. Given the limited number of paid staff it is amazing what they are able to accomplish. The volunteers are equally hard working. Customers receive quality and varied food offerings from can goods, meat and dairy, to fresh fruit and vegetables rescued from local food vendors. The pantry is able to purchase $11.00 worth of food for $1.00 thus expanding their ability to serve an ever increasing population of indivduals in need of food. The individuals served by the pantry is varied and includes the elderly living on fixed incomes, the unemployed or underemployed, homeless indivduals and those with physical or mental disabilities, grandmothers raising grandchildren, the list goes on. Food is such a basic human need and the indivduals and families served by the food pantry are so greatful for the assistance. Everytime I volunteer customers repeatedly thank the staff for the food and other items they receive. It is a very rewarding place to volunteer.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great place to volunteer. It is always a frenzy of activity when I show up, but for the newcomer there is always somebody ready to point you in the right direction and get you going. I'm impressed with the people I have worked with and admire the program very much.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer at the OPRF Foor Pantry for over ten years. I have never had a more satisfying volunteer experience. The Pantry staff and volunteers are committed to continuous improvement and provide guests with a dignifed experience as well as nutritious food they are able to choose for themselves. This is an organization & group of people to be proud of.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Not long ago, I began volunteering at the OPRF food pantry and it has been a great experience. The staff is very friendly and works on getting to know the many volunteers by name. They also know the clients who come in for supplies by name. There is a great respect for those who are using their services. It's been very rewarding for me to take part in such an active part of the community.
The volunteering is very organized which is nice because you can plan it into your life.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of my favorite things about the OPRF food pantry is that the cliients are treated with respect. Instead of saying 'do you need help'? Volunteers say 'may I assist you?' Those simple words make a big difference, they don't reflect pity, instead they reflect a willingness to be of service. Even in the name 'clients' the OPRF food pantry shows the attitude of respect it has for all people it serves. At the pantry, there are many options of quality food to choose from. Clients have a choice amongst produce and other food items. In a way, it's a lot like a grocery store. Thus further showing the respectful treatment of clients.

In addition, the volunteers are energetic and flexible. Many a volunteer has drawn on their high school Spanish to try and communicate with a bilingual client. Even if the clients aren't from around the area we serve, volunteers and the pantry organizers will go out of their way to find another pantry closer to the client's home.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I began volunteering I had no idea that the Food Pantry had such reach, it provides hunger relief to over 28 zip codes in Chicago and the western suburbs. My daughter and I just began volunteering, we look forward to being involved for a long time.

Review from Guidestar

Tamara T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a terrific place for people to go in order to help themselves get back on their feet. They provide health seminars to clients regarding how to take care of themselves and their homes. In addition, nutritional consultations are given in regards to showing clients how to make healthy meals with the food provided from the pantry. They also have donated books for both adults and children to take home. Every service is free of charge for the clients. The OPRF Food Pantry is open for clients on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Volunteers take part in checking proper identification, handing out numbers, lining the clients up, helping pass out food / toiletries, and taking the products out to vehicles. From the time clients enter the pantry, volunteers are with them every step of the way. Clients rave about the attention and satisfaction they receive at the OPRF Food Pantry. It is a wonderful place to visit, receive services from, and volunteer on a weekly basis.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The OPRF food Pantry is a very well run, efficient organization. I have been a volunteer on deliveries (helping unload the delivery truck once a week) and “produce rescues” (going to local food stores for donated produce) for a little over 2 years now. I feel my time is used wisely and that my efforts are appreciated. There is no “down time” waiting for assignments or decisions as I have seen on other volunteer projects. We all work well together and get the job done. It is a great way to help others.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 13 yr old daughter and I recently started to volunteer at the OPRF Food Pantry. The staff is very friendly and easy to work with. The staff and volunteers are caring and compassionate people. We were impressed to see "client choice" in the food items that are received. It gives the clients dignity in their shopping and they choose the foods that they will eat. Not only does the OPRF Pantry utilize client choice, but they also maintain healthy food choices. Moreover, the pantry leverages its resources by purchasing food at deep discounts ($1 can purchase $11 worth of food and focus staffing on programming).

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The OPRF Food Pantry is an organized, well run pantry with compassionate volunteers and appreciative clients. The pantry staff leverages doanted resources to maximize the dollars recieved and has engaged local merchants to support the pantry with fresh foods such as seasonal vegetables, fruits and bread. The client choice program in place reduces waste by allowing clients to select foods based on thier taste and ethnic preferences and provides dignity by involving the client in the selection process. Several times a month Registered Dietitians and Nutrition experts are on hand to offer clients nutrition education as well as recipies and ideas for food preparation using stock foods.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My volunteer experience has been heartwarming. The volunteer staff and coordinators are fabulous. I have worked at two other food pantries and find the OPRFFP to be exceptional. The staff really care about the clients. They recently switched to a client choice process to allow the clients dignity in choosing their food allotment. The clients are so appreciative; it is humbling to be around them. I only wish I had more hours to give.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at the OPRF Food Pantry for almost two years. During that time I am continually amazed by the constant strides this organization makes to improve it's ability to meet the needs of the clients. The Food Pantry serves it's clients in a dignified manner with the set up much like a grocery store where individuals can choose their food items according to personal preferences/needs. A good variety of food is made available including dairy, meat and fresh produce. The clients appear satisfied and often comment on the positive shopping experience.The organizers have thought of ways to make the distribution easier on clients, using a number system so that clients no longer have to wait in long lines to be assured of the best items available. Food items are fairly distributed throughout the shifts so that everyone has an opportunity to get what they want/need. I am proud to be a volunteer in such an important and necessary organization.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is incredibly well run and serves an extremely diverse and needy population. The staff is always upbeat and ready for whatever may come their way. As a volunteer, I appreciate their care and consideration when it comes to organizing the volunteer corps as well as assisting the clientele. The best!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Warm, caring, compassionate, dedicated. Those are the attributes I find in the people at Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry. They go above and beyond to make each and every client feel welcome and wanted, doing their utmost to provide with the food and services the clients so desperately need. I never knew that so much could be done with so little.

Review from Guidestar

modemjunkie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at the OPRF Food Pantry was not only rewarding but a wonderful opportunity to see the best of social action. Time and time again I saw volunteers do little things to respect the dignity of the clients (guests? consumers? I never remember the right word). I also found the cooperation between volunteers and their enthusiasm exciting. The energy of high school volunteers was impressive.

There were bitter cold days when the line seemed to stretch endlessly waiting for the doors to open. As the economy declined, the Pantry took steps to streamline its approach while giving clients more choice and individual treatment. Growing from a very small operation many years ago, the OPRFFP has developed into a powerful community resource in a time of great need.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at this well organized and dignified way of serving the hungry population of this area is made that much easier due to the operators and organizers. Each time I volunteer, I come away knowing others less fortunate than myself have been given a boost for the weeks following their contact with the pantry. Choices are plentiful and generous and life is just a bit better for their families. All are happy for the consistent kind treatment given them. A wonderful place for volunteers and clients.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My family has been searching for a volunteer activity to do locally in Oak Park. My wife identified the OPRFFP and I attended the orientation. As a consultant, usually mission based organizations are slightly disorganized and frustrating to volunteer for. Not the OPRFFP. They are organized, thoughtful and respectful. It is refreshing to have them and they represent the best of what OPRF is about.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family (husband, 14 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter) started volunteering about 9 months ago. There are jobs for all of us to do that are meaningful. Currently my son is old enough to help with distribution of the food and loves feeling needed. My daughter and I often "rescue" food form places and package them for family sized amount. It is a great way to help Th.the community. I hope everyone in this are could help at least once a month! Very organized volunteer program.

Wendy E.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry for about 5 years now, first as a distribution volunteer and now as a board member. The Pantry has seen demand skyrocket over the last three years -- the number of individuals we serve annually has increased from 24,000 in 2008 to 48,500 in 2010 -- but you wouldn't know it from watching a food distribution. Our clients receive the same amount of food today as they would have three years ago. Actually, our clients get better food today than they did back in 2008: 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.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Several of us who went to college with the Executive Director were touched by her enthusiasm for the work performed by the OPRF Food Pantry. We volunteered there one morning , were given a tour, met staff and volunteers, and learned about all the services this small, but mighty not-for-profit provides. This organization is lean, creative, innovative, productive and really in tune with the needs of those they serve. They serve with respect and dignity.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry is a wonderful organization of which I am proud to volunteer. They provide grocery items (food and other necessities) to clients throughout the year using the most dignified client choice methods. The high quality of food for each client (including meat, dairy and produce) is amzing! People are so appreciative and we received a letter from a new client that hadn't used the pantry before that made my eyes well up with tears. She was so appreciative of the way she was treated with respect and was so blessed by those volunteers she met that evening. They leverage resources by purchasing food at deep discounts ($1 can purchase $11 worth of food and focus staffing on programming). And of course they have a fantastic volunteer program! My wife and I are regular volunteers, helping out when we can which gives us a sense of pride in the communtiy.



Review from Guidestar

Dale Y.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer for the Food Pantry for a couple of years. I support the IT side of the operation so we are always looking for ways to serve more clients within the confines of our space. I am constantly amazed by how everyone is treated with great respect. The Client Choice system has made a huge difference to our clients experience. Now we're working on a new database system that will allow us to intake multiple clients at the same time. As the need grows we are finding ways to always do more.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have a long-standing interest in hunger relief and have often helped at food banks in the Chicago area and elsewhere. When I learned that my local pantry needed help, I was happy to give my time (and, later, open my checkbook). The Pantry is exemplary in its ability to stretch a dollar: with my $100 check, the Pantry can buy $1,100 in foodstuffs. Led by executive director Kathy Russell, the Pantry is making significant inroads with elected officials, corporations, foundations, service groups and local places of worship, building awareness and generating donations.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer for about 5 years, and very much enjoy my work with the pantry. The camaraderie between the volunteers, the staff and the clients is terrific. That atmosphere also helps to turn what could be a demeaning or stressful experience for our clients into something positive. The client choice program that we began this past fall allows our clients to decide for themselves what food they take home; no more one-size-fits-all bag of groceries.

Review from Guidestar

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a donor and my family members are volunteers. I am at the pantry fairly regularly (several times a month) for distributions of food. The thing that I find most striking is the level of politeness and courtesy exhibited by the volunteers. It can be a harried, fast-paced environment at times and there are always people new to the process, whether volunteers or those in need. It can be confusing and so many are trying to do so much in a small space and limited amount of time.

Yet without fail, I hear the common courtesies, which were once so common but one never hears anywhere. Please, thank you, any time, how can I help, may I get that for you, no you go first, etc. are constantly heard with actual feeling behind them.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every Thursday about 11,000 lbs of food is delivered. Within 2 hours the goods are sorted, packed, and shelved. Very little free space. A satisfying point of my week.

7 days later the room is nearly empty. The cycle continues. It would be nice to think that one can break the cycle but I am not sure how. So for the moment I'll help the cycle continue because 1100+ families are helped

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been an active volunteer with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry for 8 years. When I started, we operated out of a tiny storefront, with 8 volunteers on Saturday mornings. It was a dark, cramped space. A big Saturday meant servicing 40 individuals/families. Since then, the need has grown tremendously, and the pantry has grown to accommodate. It changed locations (tripling the space), expanded hours and days of service, and underwent a dramatic shift in operation (Client Choice), enabling it to better serve the growing clientele (now averaging about 200 individuals/families on Saturday, plus additional weekday/evening hours). It is clean, efficient, well-staffed, and, as a client-choice pantry, allows each family/individual to personally select the foods they take home with them. Less waste= happier clientele. Happy clientele=happy volunteers.

Communication with volunteer staff is regular, clear and consistent. We feel deeply connected to the Food Pantry, and appreciated for the work we do. This is an organization that never stands still and is constanty improving. I'm immensely proud of the work the pantry does, and happy to be part of this amazing group.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Food Pantry provides hunger relief to over 28 zip codes in Chicago and the western suburbs which includes some of the regions most depleted neighborhoods. My husband and I began volunteering with the Food Pantry along with our children as a way to get involved in our community. I became a Board Member as I learned more about the Food Pantry's efficient operation, stalwart leadership and broader mission to connect the hungry to additional support services, provide educational programs in the community and advocate on behalf of hunger-related issues. This is a tremendous organization.

Review from Guidestar