Thursday, Jan. 19, Spanish National Honor Society (SNHS) members assisted at Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry. The mobile pantry was set up at Lakewood Creek Elementary School.
Non-stop cars for around an hour allowed SNHS members Juliana Ruiz and Alicia Duran, alongside 10-15 other volunteers, the opportunity to distribute nutritious food to areas with higher needs for food and other necessities. The drive-through experience allowed families to stay in their cars as the volunteers brought them supplies. Alongside no ID, no proof of address or income requirements, these resources were easily accessible to several communities.
With SNHS sponsor Alexis F. Zayed organizing volunteer opportunities, SNHS have continued to use their knowledge surrounding the Spanish language to reach out to the Spanish speaking community. This includes their reading events for Spanish speaking children and assistance with language barriers at food pantries organized by SD308 and the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Joliet.
“The students are able to support the local community and can often use their Spanish communication skills to answer questions or help out Spanish-speaking families who attend the food pantries,” Zayed said.
SNHS has regularly attended food pantries throughout the school year, planning at least one each month at varying locations including Joliet Junior College, Long Beach and Lakewood Creek Elementary and plans to attend other food banks in the district in the near future.
“It’s heartwarming being able to speak to these families when they usually aren’t able to interact with many people at times when there’s a language barrier present,” Ruiz said. “At our food bank event at Joliet Junior College, I was truly shocked by how caring and grateful all of the Spanish speakers were.
While SNHS is able to assist with the language barrier at these events, by being there to help with the set up and hand out food, they also help the food pantry provide to 150-160 families.
“The goal of the food pantry was to allow people the opportunity to have food on their table. Each volunteer would pack up a bag with all the different items in order for each family to get a certain amount,” Duran said.
Some items handed out include canned goods, dairy products like cheese and yogurt, and produce like salad mixes, carrots, oranges and mangos. Frozen foods including pizza were also offered alongside different types of meat, including vegan options. The pantry also hands out necessary household items like laundry detergent and feminine products.
SNHS will be assisting at another Northern Illinois Food Bank Mobile Pantry, Thursday Feb. 16, taking place at Fox Chase Elementary from 5-6:30 pm.
Aryanna Griffin is a staff writer for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl