Feeding the Community Together

Food-insecure people in New Berlin, Illinois, now can find help at two micro food pantries in the community thanks to a trio of churches. 

Island Grove United Methodist Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church and a satellite campus of Central Baptist Church of Springfield—all located in New Berlin, Illinois—teamed up to fight hunger by installing and filling food pantries, not on their campuses, but at Corbett Park and New Berlin Laundromat. While the laundromat pantry is available only during business hours, the park pantry is accessible around the clock.

“We collaborated with the village of New Berlin, and they agreed to let us construct a freestanding micro pantry in the southwest corner of town,” says Liz Pensoneau, leader of Island Grove’s seven-member outreach committee. “On July 1, 2020, we opened that micro pantry. It contained only boxes, cans, anything that wasn’t perishable. It was set up on an honor system, and it was for anyone in need.”

Hard-hit by the pandemic’s economic fallout, the churches realized that people in New Berlin still need assistance securing basic necessities like food. Nearly three years into the coronavirus crisis, the need has not gone away. With help from grant money, and food and financial donations, representatives from the three churches take turns replenishing the pantries. 

On occasion, recipients of the food have left notes at the pantries expressing gratitude for the food and explaining that the donations have helped feed children. 

Donors to the pantries appreciate the outreach program, as it allows them to take part in a worthy community cause. 

“The big miracle in all of this is that our community has rallied around those pantries in an unbelievable way,” Pensoneau says.

Nadra Kareem Nittle
Nadra Kareem Nittletwitter.com/NadraKareem

Nadra Kareem Nittle has written for Outreach magazine since 2009. She has written about faith and other issues for a number of publications and websites, including the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, About.com's Race Relations website, TheLoop21.com, PRISM magazine and the Inland Valley Times. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles.