After more than a decade of helping feed Plainfield-area residents in need, Green Harvest Food Pantry founder Jeff Green got a taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end when his organization won a $1,000 grant.
Now, the pantry, which provides food and everyday essentials to more than 600 people every month, is in the running for a $10,000 prize from California winemaker Beaulieu Vineyard’s Hometown Hunger Hero program.
“This is all new to us,” said Green, who founded Green Harvest in 2001.
Earlier this year, Green learned he was the first-ever recipient of the $1,000 Hometown Hunger Hero prize after a Green Harvest volunteer nominated him for the award.
The prize money purchased several tons of food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Green said. That went a long way toward helping feed the pantry’s clients.
“It takes almost four tons of food each month to feed all of our families,” he said.
From April 8 to 18, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) will open up voting for the $10,000 award on its Facebook page.
If Green Harvest is the big winner, Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth of “Sex & the City” fame, will present the $10,000 check at the Plainfield pantry.
'A great boost'
Green said he was inspired to start the food pantry following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“The president called for volunteers to meet the needs of their communities,” Green said.
Green and his wife, Amy, were already running a program that provided holiday food baskets to struggling families.
“My wife just looked at me and said, ‘Maybe you should consider taking this thing full time,'” Green remembered.
Green launched the pantry out of the couple's Aurora townhome.
"We pretty much slept upstairs and used the living room and basement [for Green Harvest]," he remembered. In 2005, Green Harvest expanded into its current location at 25448 Ruff St. in Plainfield.
Today, the pantry serves 125 families per month. Clients can apply for assistance on a six-month rotating basis.
“Our goal is to try to make people responsible for themselves,” he said. “It’s to try to help people that have fallen through the cracks.”
Clients can sign up to come to the pantry during a two-hour window of time and shop for the items their family needs.
“It’s set up like a grocery store,” Green said. “They get a shopping cart and they go through the aisles and pick out what they want. We are considered a full clients’ choice [pantry].”
In addition to BV, Green said companies including Exelon, ComEd, UPS and Jewel-Osco have helped the pantry serve its clients, who live in Plainfield, Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, Yorkville, Bolingbrook and Montgomery.
“To be able to have people like BV come in and help us out, it’s a great boost,” Green said.
Don’t forget to vote
Plainfield-area residents can keep an eye on the BV Facebook page for their chance to help Green Harvest win the $10,000 grant.
Voting begins April 8 and ends April 18.