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Grants allow Southern Illinois food pantries to increase cold food storage

CARBONALE, Ill.— More than 45,000 Southern Illinoisans struggle with food insecurity, and many rely on the nearly 95 food pantries in the lower 16 counties to meet their food needs. Most area food pantries do not have enough cold storage, limiting their selection to shelf-stable products.

In cooperation with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH), the Southern Illinois Food Pantry Network awarded equipment grants to several area food pantries. The grants will provide a refrigerator or freezer to increase perishable cold food storage. The expansion of this equipment will allow these pantries to offer fresh, healthy foods to their clients.

Some of the grant recipients include:

  • Wester Egyptian Sparta Food Pantry
  • Marion Ministerial Alliance
  • Cherry Street General Baptist Church Food Pantry in Carmi
  • Salem Lutheran Church Food Pantry
  • First United Methodist Food Pantry of Johnston City
  • Christian Outreach Program Emergency (COPE) of Massac County
  • Murphysboro Youth and Recreation Center
  • Greater Galatia Food Pantry
  • Herrin House of Hope

The new cold storage is a welcome addition to many pantries that struggled with poor equipment. Murphysboro Youth and Rec Center’s Food Pantry reported using a tarp strap to keep their freezer tightly closed to maintain temperature and ensure food safety. Upon delivery of the new freezer unit, Barbara Anderson, director of Murphysboro Youth and Rec Center said, “We are so thankful for this blessing, and we look forward to getting it filled.”

The Southern Illinois Food Pantry Network works to reduce hunger and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities through access to healthy and nutritious food, education, resources and advocacy. By allocating donations from partnering organizations, they help to transform the lives of residents that face food insecurity in Southern Illinois communities. 

SOURCE: Toni Kay Wright, SNAP-Ed Extension educator,, (618) 993-3304

WRITER: Heather Willis, marketing and communications coordinator,, (618) 357-2126