Help Area Food Bank with NASCAR Foundation Walk

Northern Illinois Food Bank

ST. CHARLES, Ill. – There’s a pair of hands on the other side of the box Larry Halan holds – a pair he knows he’ll never see. But he feels them.

It’s 1:30 p.m. at the Northern Illinois Food Bank and there’s a table in the Product Processing and Food Sorting room stacked high with boxes and bottles for Halan, 48, of Bartlett, to check out, tape up, sort and send on for evaluation.

This nondescript warehouse buried deep in the suburbs used to be a cardboard distributing company. Now it feeds 40,600 individuals and families in 13 Illinois counties, four of which are among the state’s poorest.

Will County, location of Chicagoland Speedway, is one of the counties served. That’s what got the attention of the NASCAR Foundation, who with the Speedway will allow fans to walk around the 1.5-mile, D-shaped tri-oval at 8 a.m. July 11, before the 400.

Registration is online at Track Walk-Chicagoland. Fans may also call (704) 348-9657 to sign up, or stop by the NASCAR Foundation booth in Champions Park on Thursday and Friday of the NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend. Proceeds benefit Feeding America and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

It’s no surprise the need for food is rising – but in Will County alone, demand in the first three months of this year was up by 56-percent from the same time period last year.

In 2008, 2.5 million of the more than 22 million pounds of food distributed from the Food Bank to pantries, shelters or soup kitchens were perfectly edible meat products that were destined for the landfill. Instead, they were donated by grocer partners like Jewel Osco, said Ken Hasler, manager of Product Processing for the Food Bank.

One’s trash is another’s life-saving treasure.

Meat products – or any source of protein, like beef stew, beef ravioli, canned tuna and chicken or beans – are especially important to the Food Bank. Meat is one of the most expensive things in the grocery store, and is thus one of the first things dropped from shopping lists, said Rachael McGarry, volunteer coordinator.

Halan may never meet the people he’s helped, but he knows what he’ll say if he does.

“I guess I’d say I hope they’d never have to take a handout again,” Halan said. “I’m happy to help out, but I hope these people can get back on their feet.”       

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