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Jun 19

Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry: making life normal for many

Posted on June 19, 2017 at 12:08 PM by Christopher Cudworth

Batavia Pantry tooSee those shelves filled with food at the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet? It's all donated and processed for distribution to members of the community in need of groceries for daily nutrition. 

See, hunger in Batavia doesn’t look like bloated stomachs or skin and bones.  It is more often about making a choice between paying the electric bill, the medical bill or going to the grocery store.  It is part of the stress of trying to get the bills paid and the home duties done while you parent and work. It’s just like all of us but there is ZERO room for error in many households.

Unexpected financial emergencies put many people in a bind.

  • You get a flat tire and then what?  How do you get to work?  If you skip work to fix the car, you lose that day’s income and maybe the job itself.  You come to the food pantry until the car is fixed.
  • Your tooth hurts and the cost of the dentist bill causes you to be late on rent again. You get an eviction notice.  You need to pay the landlord or lose your home, so you come to the food pantry because every last penny needs to pay the landlord.
  • Your wife left you and the four kids.  It was tight before and now the family has one less job. You go to the food pantry because the kids need healthy food and clothes.
  • There is a new baby and the baby needs diapers, which aren’t cheap. You come to food pantry because we have the food you need to feed a growing family.
  • You live in a $500,000 house with your husband and kids with two nice cars and all the fixings.  Everything is working well until someone loses a job, there is a major medical problem and someone can’t work.  Income drops.  Expenses rise.  Debt payments remain the same.  You come to the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet until income rises or the house and overhead can be cut.
  • Divorce brings folks to the pantry until expenses and lifestyles are settled.

For others, the supplementary services provided by the pantry and clothes closet are a regular part source of support. There is no particular triggering event. Here are a few examples:

  • You are retired on a fixed income.  You know exactly how much money there is to go around. You come to the food pantry monthly for full service shopping, every Saturday for extras and sometimes midweek for bread and apples.  You’re not here because it’s an emergency. You are here because your budget won't work without these supplementary groceries.
  • You are working over 40 hours a week at minimum. Paychecks don’t cover the expenses so you are a pantry regular as well: once a month, every Saturday.

The pantry and clothes closet helps folks hold it together, be part of their community and carry on a life that has normalcy.


Over the course of the year, the pantry and clothes closet serve close to 700 families.  They are welcome to receive full service grocery shopping once a month (almost a week's worth of groceries) and clothes shopping twice a month. Yet most only take what they need. Some we serve only once. On average, clients visit 11 times a year. That includes about 6 visits to the food pantry and 5 visits to the clothes closet.  

Of the individuals we serve, 40% are children, 52% are adults, and 8% are elderly. The volume of food and clothing that goes in and out of our little building each month is amazing.  

We rely on the help of150 volunteers a month process both clothing and food donations. In May alone our volunteers processed 52,000 pounds of food donations

This article for Voice was provided by Betsy Zinser, Executive Director of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet. 

Batavia PantryThe Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, volunteer agency directed and operated by community and local church volunteers residing throughout the greater Fox Valley area. It is also a member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Those who visit and use the Food Pantry are our neighbors and friends, people with disabilities, seniors, low income families, and families whose member(s) have lost their jobs.

Once a client/family has been 
certified they may use the Pantry once a month. In addition, all clients may come during the last half hour of operation on any day the Pantry is open for produce and bakery items. The Pantry is also open to all clients each Saturday morning, see right column for hours and available items.
The Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry has been open for over 30 years. It is currently serving over 1,200 individuals each month. This would not be possible without the active support of community volunteers and donors who so selflessly donate their time, effort, and money. Our pantry requires 900 worker hours each month to fill our client shopping hours and food collection and stocking needs.


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