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STERLING – United Way of Whiteside County will kick off a modified Let's Feed Our Children program June 3.
Instead of the usual free brown bag lunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made by a team of volunteers on site, kids in need of a meal over the summer months can come to one of 19 sites around the county once a week and grab a bag of groceries.
"It will be a full loaf of bread each week, and throughout the summer, not every week but throughout the summer, they will get a full jar of peanut butter, jelly, a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, a can of soup, and some other things," said Pam Martinez, director of programs and services for United Way of Whiteside County.
In years past, the program served food 3 or 5 days a week, depending on the site. Last year, Let's Feed served more than 26,000 lunches.
The United Way also has reduced the number of volunteers at each site, from 10 to 15 to two, and social distancing measures will be in place – for example, when volunteers are putting the bags together, they won't be getting too close to each other.
"No one is touching any raw product, everything is completely sealed in its original packaging," Martinez said. "Gloves will be provided. Volunteers have to bring their own masks."
Grocery bags will be distributed from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, June 3 through Aug. 5, at Broadway Methodist Church, Macedonia Church, St. Paul's Church, SterLynn Apartments, Douglas Park, Steelton, the Salvation Army and the Sterling Public Library in Sterling, at Coloma Homes, Rock Falls Methodist Church, Rock Falls Public Library, CedarWood Apartments and Easy Living Mobile Home Park in Rock Falls, and at the Tampico Community Building, Fulton First Reformed Church, Eclipse Square in Prophetstown, Margaret Park in Erie, Richmond Park in Lyndon and the Crave Building in Morrison.
Martinez also needs volunteers to help assemble and deliver the bags.
"We're looking for monetary donations too, because the cost now has skyrocketed," Martinez said. "Normally, our brown-bag lunch we would do was around 75 cents a piece. This grocery back is between $5-$7 a piece."
Call Martinez at 815-625-7973 to volunteer or for more information.