Getting your Evanston news from Facebook? Try the Evanston RoundTable’s free daily and weekend email newsletters – sign up now!

Everyone needs healthy food to live, but sometimes people cannot afford to buy enough food for their family. A food pantry helps the community because it is a place where people who need more food can get it for free. 

The Hillside Food Pantry in northwest Evanston has been open since May 2009. The food pantry provides healthy food to people in need, and it provides an opportunity for people to help others. Since it opened, it has served 28,809 families.

“The food pantry is open to anyone in need. People can come to the food pantry once a week to get a bag of food,” says Faith Albano, Hillside’s Food/Rescue Distribution Team Leader.

If people want to help, there are many ways to do it. “We have many people from the community who volunteer their time at the food pantry. They help pick up food from our donor stores, sort and stock the food when it is brought to the pantry, and help during the times we are open to distribute the food,” Albano says.

Hillside Food Pantry gets the food from many different places: stores, local businesses, church food drives, the Evanston Farmer’s Market, and a couple of community school gardens.

One of those school gardens is Kingsley’s own Green Acres. Green Acres is located in Twiggs Park community garden. Last year it provided about 300 pounds of vegetables to Hillside Food Pantry, and other service groups like Family Focus and the Rice Children’s Center. Even more vegetables went home with the Kingsley students and their families who volunteered in the garden.

“Community gardens provide a place to grow vegetables and flowers, help people learn about plants and gardening, and they provide food for people,” says Lauren Spain-Bondi, Kingsley’s farmer
in residence. 

People in the Kingsley community help the garden by volunteering to do garden work. They also help by raising money to buy gardening supplies. Most of the money comes from the Kingsley PTA. Also, the first grade has donated money that it raised from its Snack Attack sale.

“I think community gardens are great because they help people to be healthy, and help the environment to be healthy too,” says Spain-Bondi. “Plus, gardening with friends and family is a lot of fun!”