A Message from the Director

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I announce my transition into the role of Director of Illini Fighting Hunger following the departure of our Founder, Gregory Damhorst. After many years at the helm of our hunger-fighting efforts, Greg has stepped down in order to pursue his career in medicine. A truly inspiring, dedicated, and caring individual, Dr. Damhorst will continue to help those in need as a medical professional now that our Board of Directors, our student Leadership Team, and I are ready to carry on his mission of combating food insecurity.

As we reflect upon the great accomplishments of the past year, from reaching the one million meal mark, to having engaged over 10,000 volunteers in food-packaging events, including such figures as Governor Bruce Rauner and the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I would like to take a moment to recognize you. I hope you share the incredible sense of pride and awe that I feel when looking at all that has been achieved in the three short years since our start:

10,275 Volunteers
18,511 Hours of service
1,315,419 Meals packaged
71,977 Pounds of rice
22,700 Pounds of beans
2,930 Pounds of pasta

 

This work has not been the result of one person or one team’s actions, but rather the collective efforts of a growing community of individuals and organizations standing up to fight hunger in their communities. On behalf of the Illini Fighting Hunger Leadership Team and Board of Directors, and the thousands of people whose lives have been improved through your gifts and service work, I extend my most sincere appreciation for your support of our mission. Together, we can work to make hunger an issue of the past.

In looking ahead, I am very excited to work with the many groups we have scheduled to host packaging projects in the coming months, and I would invite you to consider organizing one of your own! Our rice, bean, and meal projects are always available to be customized to the unique capabilities of your organization.

Thank you for your time and service! We could not make such an incredible impact on the lives of others without your support. As we continue to move forward in the fight against hunger, I aspire to follow in the footsteps of my predecessor in developing strong relationships with partnering organizations in order to further our shared vision. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss opportunities for partnerships, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our latest accomplishments and events!

All the best for the future ahead,

Maxwell E. Colon
Director, Illini Fighting Hunger

 

Package Rice With Illini Fighting Hunger!

The Wesley Evening Food Pantry serves hundreds of individuals in the Champaign-Urbana community who face food insecurity. Among the most needed items for the Pantry’s monthly distribution is long-grain white rice. To meet needs, especially during the summer months, the Wesley Evening Pantry requires approximately 2,000 lbs of long-grain white rice per month.

Since September, 2012, the Wesley Evening Food Pantry has been provided with sufficient rice through the effort of community supporters. The concept is simple: community groups purchase bulk rice and bags for re-packing and organize volunteers from their organization to repackage the rice into 1-lb and 3-lb packages for distribution at the Wesley Pantry.

Illini Fighting Hunger has facilitated this process since its founding in 2012. We provide the equipment and resources needed to make organizing a project simple for community groups, churches, youth groups, clubs and other organizations. Make this an opportunity for your group or club to engage food insecurity in your community in a hands-on way and meet a very real need for those facing hunger!

It takes just $700.00 to purchase 2,000 lbs of rice, as well as 30 volunteers and approximately two hours to repackage one month’s rice needs for the Pantry. However, there is no minimum event size requirement and we welcome projects of any size. We are happy to host you at the Wesley Foundation, or to take our equipment to your facility for a project and connect the food packaged with a food agency of your choice.

Please contact us if you are interested in hosting a project of your own!

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Last year more than 1,200 volunteers participated in meal packaging with Illini Fighting Hunger for the Community & Campus Day of Service. This year, members of the local community and University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students will join forces once again to kick off National Volunteer Week 2015.

The Food Packaging Project will involve packaging 147,162 meals – one thousand for every year of public engagement since the University was chartered – for local foodbanks to be distributed to needy families in Champaign-Urbana. Hundreds of volunteers are needed for the food packaging project, and several volunteer shifts will be available during the day. Be sure to help us celebrate 147 years of public engagement in the afternoon at an after-party! Register to volunteer today here.

If you’d like to support the Community & Campus Day of Service, but you can’t be there on the day of the event (or even if you can!), we need financial support to cover the cost of the ingredients in the meal. Donate online here! Alternatively, you can send a check to the following address:

Illini Fighting Hunger
1203 W Green St
Urbana, IL 61801

Your donation is tax deductible.

One Million Meals!

On February 28th, 2015, Illini Fighting Hunger completed its one millionth meal packaged since our founding in 2012. To recognize this incredible milestone, we held a Millionth Meal Celebration on April 14th, 2015, with the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Director of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, and (most importantly) many of our event partners in attendance.

As we recognize this outstanding accomplishment and the impact it has had throughout Illinois, we invite you to become a part of the Illini Fighting Hunger network! Find out how to organize your own event customized to fit the needs and abilities of your group, and join us in the fight against food-insecurity!

 

9/11 Interfaith Memorial Packaging Event

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A unique and deeply personal experience for all, the events of September 11th, 2001, have culminated in a National Day of Service and Remembrance that engages volunteers in charitable service as an annual and forward-looking tribute to the victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.

In a memorial food-packaging event sponsored by the Illini Union Office of Volunteer Programs, Interfaith in Action, and Illini Fighting Hunger, 64 volunteers remembered the lives of those who perished thirteen years ago. In their memory, volunteers packaged 950lbs. of rice, 1,200lbs. of pinto beans, and 520lbs. of elbow macaroni to be distributed at next week’s Wesley Evening Food Pantry to assist those facing food insecurity.

We are continually amazed and sincerely grateful for the support of our volunteers, and we were humbled by the stories shared of why people came out to volunteer that night. A great thank you to all of our volunteers, past and future, for serving your community and helping to make the world a better place for all.

 

 

The Illini Fighting Hunger Campaign

This is the website for Illini Fighting Hunger the student organization, however, if you’re a fan of Fighting Illini Athletics, you may hear about the Illini Fighting Hunger campaign! Our organization (the student group) is a partner in this campaign, which shares the same name and is organized by the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and Fighting Illini Athletics with the goal of raising the funds for 1 million meals during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Learn more about the campaign by going to www.illinifightinghunger.com!

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Over 500,000 meals and counting!

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Thanks to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in St. Joseph, Illinois, Illini Fighting Hunger reached an incredible milestone on March 8th – over 500,000 meals packaged to date! More than 150 volunteers of all ages came together to package rice-soy casserole meals to benefit the 14 counties served by the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

Prince of Peace did such an amazing job with raising funds and inspiring volunteers that they set the second-place record for our largest single-day meal packaging event! In five hours, equipment and ingredients were unloaded and set up, 57,078 meals were packaged, and all the equipment and supplies were loaded back onto trucks.

Interested in hosting your own packaging event? Be sure to visit our Organize An Event page today!

Registration is now open for the Community & Campus Day of Service!

Last year more than 1,200 volunteers participated in meal packaging with Illini Fighting Hunger for the Community & Campus Day of Service. This year, members of the local community and University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students will join forces once again to kick off National Volunteer Week 2014, which will take place from April 6-12.

The Food Packaging Project will involve packaging 147,000 meals – one thousand for every year of public engagement since the University was chartered – for local foodbanks to be distributed to needy families in Champaign-Urbana. Hundreds of volunteers are needed for the food packaging project, and several volunteer shifts will be available during the day. Be sure to help us celebrate 147 years of public engagement in the afternoon at an after-party! Register to volunteer today at: https://cuvolunteer.org/DayOfService2014

If you’d like to support the Community & Campus Day of Service, but you can’t be there on the day of the event (or even if you can!), we need financial support to cover the cost of the ingredients in the meal. Donate online here! Or send a check to: Illini Fighting Hunger at 1203 W Green St, Urbana, IL 61801. Your donation is tax deductible.

Help us crowd-fund a much needed rice storage system

2013-07-09 14.39.03Our community is incredible at responding to the Wesley Evening Food Pantry’s need for at least one ton (2,000 lbs) of long-grain white rice every month. However, without proper storage containers, we can’t properly handle this influx of generosity. Poly box trucks like these hold up to 600 lbs of volunteer-packaged rice at a time in an efficient and (importantly) mobile unit that is easy for our volunteers to move in and out of storage. We’ve tried other methods – containers without wheels are too heavy, and smaller containers don’t stack well and collapse under the weight of the rice.

We were able to afford two 12-bushel box trucks with our existing equipment budget and we piloted this innovative storage method at the June, 2013 food pantry distribution. A great success! Our volunteers could move them easily, no heavy lifting (no sore backs!), and no collapsed boxes!

We need two additional 12-bushel box trucks and two 8-bushel box trucks to meet the current needs of our partnership with the Wesley Evening Food Pantry. With lids (necessary for safe storage of food product). Throw in a little extra for shipping charges, and we need $1,500.00 to fully implement this rice storage system. So, we’ve turned to crowd-funding on the new website Start Up Scholar. Click here to view our project page and be sure to encourage others to contribute! If everyone gives a small amount, we can do big things!

Contribute $20.00 or more and we’ll send you an Illini Fighting Hunger wristband!
Contribute $350.00 or more and we’ll honor you (or an honoree of your choice) with a placard on a storage cart!

Highlights from Community and Campus Day of Service