West Suburban Community Pantry to offer summer support services

For many families, summer is a time for fun and relaxation. But for many low-income families who struggle to put food on the table year-round, summer means children who are out of school don’t have access to breakfast and lunch five days of every week.

It means finding safe and inexpensive activities to keep children safe and engaged while parents work. It may mean children are responsible for preparing food for themselves during the day. And it could spell potential learning loss while children are out of the classroom.

West Suburban Community Pantry (WSCP) is addressing all of those challenges with support services programs designed to help families and children thrive during the summer months.

“A lot of the programs we have set up for summer are the direct result of hearing from social workers in the schools,” Nancy Chatterjee, support services coordinator at WSCP, said in a news release. “We are working to stay in contact with families who use the Pantry so we can provide access to supplemental food during the summer months. But we also want to address families’ other needs.”

That’s why WSCP is offering five-week Junior Chef cooking classes taught by Lisa Mills, a Community Educator from the University of Illinois Extension, for kids aged 8-13 to teach them how to prepare sustainable, nutritious and budget-friendly meals. Attendees receive lunch, a snack and a recipe ingredient kit to take home. “The recipes feature ingredients that are easily accessible and can be prepared safely at home,” says Chatterjee.

The pantry has also added a six-week Imagine Art Camp for youngsters 5-7 exploring paint, chalk, finger paint and tie-dye set to music, and an additional camp for ages 8-11 exploring cartooning and character drawing.

Both camps are taught by an artist who has needed food assistance herself in the past. Classes are offered free of charge for neighbors in need, by pre-registration. The Pantry’s Junior Board, made up of high school and junior high volunteers, is also offering tutoring sessions twice a month by appointment for pantry families with children from kindergarten-grade 12 at Woodridge Public Library.

“In addition to ensuring that families have access to the foods they need to provide for their children during the summer months, these programs offer the opportunity for kids to be a bit more self-sufficient, discover interests and talents, maintain the gains they made in school and just have fun safely,” WSCP Executive Suzanne Armato said in a news release. “Isn’t that what we want all kids to enjoy in the summer months?”

West Suburban Community Pantry increases access to nutritious foods through an in-person Woodridge-based market, online ordering, senior home delivery and child nutrition programs in local school districts. WSCP also offers support services--case management, connecting individuals and families to community and government assistance.

Visit www.wscpantry.org to learn more.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois