CHICAGO (CBS) – The Will County Health Department in Joliet is the home of the latest micro pantry. Micro pantires are designed to allow anonymous food pick-up for those in need and a drop-off point for those who wish to donate.
There are now 18 micro pantries, most of them in Will County or southwest suburban region. The newest, located at 501 Ella Avenue in Joliet.
The micro-pantry is open to any resident. The approximate four-by-three-feet wooden box with protective door and shelves contains non-perishable food items, as well as common necessities such as diapers for babies.
The sign on the front reads, “Take what you need, leave what you can.”
According to a press release from the Will County Health Department, the initiative began in December of 2016 behind the leadership of Jeff Eberhard from E-Z Auto Sales.
“We have been involved with assembling and passing out ‘homeless backpacks’ full of food for quite a while,” Eberhard stated. “Word of mouth got things going and we were working with organizations, such as veterans support groups. But then we realized a lot of people were missing out on these backpacks, especially single moms with kids. They might have been afraid of being seen and then reported to someone, or hurt by someone they were hiding from. Or often, it was the simple case of ‘being too proud to ask.'”
Eberhard organized a non-profit group called The Guardian Group to help with the expansion of the micro pantry project.
“At every location we’ve placed a micro pantry they have taken charge, not to mention area residents who seem to adopt it as their own and help keep it stocked. A great example is the one we have at Rockdale Elementary School. The Rockdale Lions Club took over and made it a top priority. They keep it stocked with cereal, snacks, and much more. Many families at that school often pick up their kids, and then pick up their dinner at the micro pantry at the same time,” said Eberhard.
Other micro pantries in the area can be found at locations such as D’arcy Hyundai on West Jefferson, the Big Brothers -Big Sisters building on Taylor Street in Joliet, and Sage Plaza on MacGregor in Lockport. For a full list, go to the Micro Pantries Facebook page.