Church makes hunger history

July 2021 View more

There is a phrase in Irish Gaelic, “céad míle fáilte,” which means “a hundred thousand welcomes.” It’s a saying that embodies true hospitality toward friends and strangers alike. So it couldn’t have been more appropriate that a plaque engraved with those very words was found on the front door of a 100-year old parsonage at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn—the building that is now undergoing renovations to serve as the new location for the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry.

The pantry, named the 2020 Glen Ellyn Nonprofit of the Year, is an ecumenical endeavor of 14 Glen Ellyn churches that work with the community to “make hunger history.” The pantry is currently located at Grace Lutheran Church, where it was originally founded by a youth group in 1979. Over the past several years the nonprofit has been raising funds for a new location in order to meet the increased demand for its services. Despite having to cancel several fundraising events due to the pandemic, the organization successfully met its $900,000 campaign goal.

On May 12, 2021, the nonprofit broke ground at 55 North Park Boulevard with plans to transform the parsonage into a full pantry as well as its new headquarters. The completed project will feature over 5,600 square feet of space including a newly constructed two-story warehouse and will be fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. Not only will the facility provide the much-needed space to store, sort, and distribute food, it’s also conveniently closer to public transportation and the Roosevelt Road corridor.

“We talk about the fact that DuPage is one of the most affluent counties in the state, and yet there is hunger around every corner. Thankfully DuPage is a very supportive area,” executive director Laura Glaza (shown, in red) says. Last year alone the pantry served 5,470 people with 761,000 pounds of food. According to Glaza, that translates to 634,000 meals. “We’ve had an unbelievable outpouring of support from the community since the pandemic started. Thanks to the local food drives, our food recovery program and our partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, we’ve been able to do so much good.”

Several members of the 1979 youth group and a couple who once lived in the house were on hand at the groundbreaking ceremony. As a special gift, attendees received a commemorative brass key chain engraved with “céad míle fáilte.”

“It’s just such a lovely sentiment about all these welcomes that perfectly reflects how welcoming we are to all the clients in our service area,” Glaza explains. As for the original plaque found on the door, it will be hung in a place of honor inside the pantry once construction is completed.

Photo courtesy Glen Ellyn Food Pantry