The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) and Craig Newmark Philanthropies honored LCVFSF by choosing the Foundation as one of the few non-profits to make a close community impact on Veteran/service members in 2021. Together, the two organizations funded multiple grants to LCVFSF and a few others to get the program off the ground. By providing food and other necessities to service members in need in Lake, McHenry, and Southern Kenosha counties LCVFSF is fulfilling our mission of connecting Veterans and service members with the resources they need, regardless of discharge status and at no cost.
That was our major success story in 2021 and we are proud to say that the LCVFSF Food Insecurity Program success will continue to serve the community in 2022.
The impact of the different phases and strains of COVID-19 continues to produce negative consequences for service members and their families. Government help intended to be generous, but it was/is limited as our country is now reaching for pre-COVID “normalcy”. For many, there still is a large gap in a working couple’s family economics because of already tight budgets, job layoffs, daycare expenses, school-provided meals, and a myriad of new issues. Unknown to many, most of the government money is now gone. But the problem of food insecurity persists.
Many of us take food and eating for granted every day. However, the seismic change that COVID threw on many people was completely unexpected. Forms of relief had to be invented for the new crisis that had never been experienced. A basic essential such as food needed to be addressed for many, including service members that are usually out of sight and out of mind. Enter BWF.
In 2021, in concert with Craig Newmark Philanthropies of Craig’s List fame and the Woodruff Foundation LCVFSF proposed a unique and powerful system to distribute private-funded needs through local partner agencies: County agencies, Veterans Closet, Illinois Joining Forces, VAC offices, Employee Resource Groups, Veterans Path to Hope and other area homeless programs.
The BWF grant funded the LCVFSF system for two options: delivery of pre-packaged meals, or restricted $50 gift cards for food and essential supplies (see photos). As a welcomed surprise, large donor organizations like the AbbVie Employee Resource Group, The McCormick Foundation, the Rust-Oleum Employee Resource Group, The Grainger Family Foundation, and Old National Bancorp raised money for the cause on their own and contributed over $100,000 to participate in the drive to fight local food insecurity. The group authorized LCVFSF to distribute the grant in the identical way that had been used for the BWF/Craig Philanthropy monies.
Dean Adams, LCVFSF Operations and Program Manager, and leader of the program, pointed out that the tools to cook are often a food insecurity issue. If you can’t cook, you can’t eat. So, he expanded the effort. Consequently, LCVFSF was able to help needy service and family members with a refrigerator, 20 microwave ovens, 20 sets of pots and pans, toasters, and food.
The LCVFSF delivery van sits filled with about $7000 worth of food and cookware, ready to be delivered to area Veteran homeless programs focusing on food insecurity.
Funds from BWF were also used to purchase about $3000 worth of grocery gift cards (above) that will be distributed to local organizations serving Veterans, service members, and their families. In 2022, the community continues to get behind this massive effort. Thank you to all contributors. and community partners that are helping to feed Veterans, service, and family members in need during this unanticipated hard economic climate. LCVFSF is pleased to work with each of them.
Finally, we are very proud to report that the LCVFSF Food Insecurity Program was adopted by Woodruff and Newmark and is now used across the nation.