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Food bank kicks off holiday meal box program

GENEVA – More than 200 volunteers descended upon the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva Saturday, operating with assembly-line precision with the goal of filling 10,000 boxes with non-perishables for the agency's Annual Holiday Meal Box program.

Volunteers first unpacked the food items, organized them by type, then repacked them into each holiday dinner box. Each box was then taped shut and stacked onto a pallet.

Once the pallet was full, another volunteer wrapped all the boxes together in plastic wrap – so they would not tumble over – and another volunteer used a forklift to move them.

Food bank spokeswoman Donna Larkin Lake said volunteers will pack about 30,000 boxes with a holiday dinner for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Everything you need for a turkey dinner, our traditional holiday dinner," Lake said. "Today, we're packing all of the dry items."

Dry items for each box includes potato mix, stuffing mix, gelatin, coffee, canned vegetables and fruits, a dessert and gravy, she said.

"Throughout the next two months, those boxes will be distributed at our partner pantries with a turkey," Lake said. "And that entire meal will feed up to eight people."

The partner pantries will provide the dinner boxes for Thanksgiving or Christmas or both depending on how they serve their communities, she said.

Many of Saturday's volunteers came from sponsoring companies, including Alpha Baking Company, The Hillshire Brands Company, Jewel Osco, Mariano’s, Meijer and Tyson Foods, she said.

Northern Illinois Food Bank serves 13 counties, including Kane, DeKalb and McHenry, providing food to 71,000 people each week, she said.

Filling these holiday dinner boxes will be integrated into the agency's daily volunteer sessions throughout the next two months, Lake said.

Volunteer opportunities are also available by calling Jenny Orlando at 630-443-6910, ext. 129 or

A $30 donation will pay for one Holiday Meal Box. Donate online at or call 630-443-6910.

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