Highland Park, IL – The inspired crowd of 150 residents who packed the Highland Park Country Club on Tuesday, April 21st to learn about food insecurity in Highland Park and Highwood were energized to become part of the solution in ensuring no one goes hungry in their communities.
Keynote speaker Christopher G. Kennedy, founder of Top Box Foods Express and former chairman of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, shared his thoughts on collaborative ways to address hunger. Noted Kennedy, “Top Box Foods is successful because we listen to our partners’ requests for nutritious, healthy and affordable food.”
Co-sponsored by Moraine Township and the City of Highland Park, the event allowed an audience to learn from Kennedy’s vison and unique strategy to address hunger and nutrition. Top Box Foods Express is a non-profit business in Lake County that provides healthy food at affordable prices in areas with limited access to nutritional eating options.
With one out of every four elementary students in Highland Park and Highwood qualifying for the federal free/reduced lunch program at their school, along with the increased use of the Moraine Township Food Pantry, food insecurity is an unfortunate reality.
This face of hunger was illustrated through enlightening presentations by Tom Koulentes, Principal of Highland Park High School; Matt Erikson, Principal of Edgewood Middle School; John Cullen, Director of St. James Food Pantry; Laura Ramirez, Director of Latino and Youth Services at Family Service; and Linda Contreras, from Moraine Township’s Food Pantry.
Noted Dr. Tom Koulentes, “Food insecurity touches all of the age and cultural demographics of our students and our community; no group is immune.”
The patchwork of community programs currently in place to address hunger was described by 15 speakers, including Moraine Township Food Pantry volunteers and key leaders from religious congregations and the business community.
On behalf of the more than 30 committed Food Pantry volunteers, Highland Park resident Debi Gordon commented that “I’ve worked with the amazing men and women who help in this tremendous effort and they’re not in it for glory or accolades, they just want to help their hungry neighbors.”
The meeting ended with a “Call to Action” when participants visited tables to talk with volunteers about how they could help fill in the gaps needed to alleviate food insecurity. Phil Kaplan from Congregation Solel in Highland Park commented that visiting the tables and talking with people working on a wide variety of programs was the best part of the evening.
John Cullen, Director of the St. James Food Pantry in Highwood, noted that “he looks forward to a day when the pantry doors are opened and no one is there because hunger has been eradicated.”
“Given the overwhelming response to Tuesday’s event,” commented Moraine Township Supervisor Anne Flanigan Bassi, “working together we can strive to make John’s dream a reality.”
If you weren’t able to attend the event and want to learn more, call Moraine Township 847-432-3240.
Moraine Township’s website is www.morainetownship.org.