Mobile food pantries will make stops in four Champaign County communities this month to help families who need food over the holidays.
The United Way of Champaign County is partnering with labor organizations to give away food in Rantoul, Mahomet, Champaign and Urbana on the first three Saturdays of December.
The agency started the holiday food distribution in Champaign in 2006 and gradually expanded it to include stops in Urbana, Mahomet and Rantoul, said Eric Westlund, community services liaison for the United Way.
About 200 families received food that first year. By last December, the mobile pantries fed 540 families, or nearly 2,000 people, including 980 children, he said. He expects about the same number this year.
"Things are still tough. The economy's not good, people are still out of work. It's just not an easy thing," he said.
Each mobile pantry can supply up to 150 families with food from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank. The menu includes canned meat, vegetables and fruit, as well as prepackaged tuna dinners, macaroni and cheese, cookies, peanut butter and possibly fresh produce, he said.
Partners in the holiday food distribution include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3700 at the University of Illinois, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, East Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades, UI Graduate Employees Organization, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 149, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 601.
The labor community will staff the distributions, but volunteers are also welcome, Westlund said.
Here is the schedule:
Saturday, Dec. 4
– First United Methodist Church, 200 S. Century Blvd., Rantoul. Distribution at 10 a.m. (volunteers arrive at 8 a.m.) Sponsored by ECI Building and Construction Trades.
– Mahomet United Methodist Church, 1302 E. South Mahomet Road, Mahomet. Distribution at 12:30 p.m. (volunteers arrive by 11 a.m.) Sponsored by AFL-CIO and GEO.
– Stratton Elementary School, 902 N. Randolph St., C. Distribution at 10 a.m. (volunteers arrive by 8 a.m.) Sponsored by IBEW Local 601 and UA Local 149.
– Prairie Elementary School, 2102 E. Washington St., U. Distribution at 10 a.m. (volunteers arrive by 8 a.m.) Sponsored by AFSCME Local 3700.