Northern Illinois Food Bank Opens Community Nutrition and Food Distribution Center

Sep 27, 2011, 20:12 ET from Northern Illinois Food Bank

Innovative center designed to get more food to more hungry people, conform to LEED requirements

GENEVA, Ill., Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Northern Illinois Food Bank today opened an innovative new facility that not only will help the non-profit provide more food to hungry people in 13 counties, but also is designed to meet Gold LEED certification requirements. Northern Illinois Food Bank provides food to more than 60,000 people each week through a network of approximately 600 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and youth and senior centers in Boone, DuPage, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will and Winnebago counties.


Designed by Rockford Associates and constructed by Ryan Companies, the Community Nutrition and Food Distribution Center:

  • More than doubles dry storage space;
  • Triples freezer capacity;
  • Includes a dual-temperature refrigerator to prolong freshness of dairy and produce;
  • Increases the number of docks from nine to 14, including three refrigerated docks.
  • Offers new opportunities for bulk product donations with a "Clean Room" that allows safe repacking of large quantities into family-sized portions.
  • Includes a Community Nutrition Center that will allow for healthy cooking classes and increased educational opportunities for partner agencies, the clients they serve, and community groups.

Designed to meet Gold LEED requirements, the Center features environmental and energy-savings factors, including:

  • An innovative HVAC system that uses the hot air exhaust emitted from the refrigeration and freezer systems to heat the warehouse.
  • Recycled and reused products. Carpeting, ceiling tiles and other items are made of recycled materials. Refurbished office cubicles kept metal frames from a landfill, and saved the food bank enough money to provide 90,000 meals to hungry people.
  • The use of light-colored concrete in the loading dock lot and a white roof, rather than asphalt, help reduce the effect of global warming.
  • Motion sensors regulate lighting for energy savings.
  • Bike racks and preferred parking for electric and hybrid cars and carpooling encourage alternative transportation.

The new center replaces an outdated warehouse in St. Charles, Ill., which the food bank outgrew.

"The previous center simply didn't have enough space for us to efficiently meet the growing needs of hungry people in our community," said Pete Schaefer, President and CEO, Northern Illinois Food Bank.  

Until the new center opened, the food bank used refrigerated trucks to store perishables around the clock, and rented freezer space at an off-site location.  Meetings were held off-site due to lack of space, and donations of bulk foods could not be accepted because the warehouse lacked the proper area to safely repack such items.

"The new facility will help us meet the needs of the increasing number of hungry people in northern Illinois well into the future by providing the capacity and efficiencies to allow us to get more nutritious food to those in need, and by offering our agencies educational opportunities that will help them become stronger and even more effective at fighting hunger in their communities," Schaefer said.

Recent studies conducted by Feeding America, the national food bank association, show that 12.5 percent of the population in the 13 counties Northern Illinois Food Bank serves, and nearly 1 in four children, live in households that struggle to meet basic food needs.

The community can help Northern Illinois Food Bank meet this growing need by volunteering at the new Center or making a financial contribution. Every dollar donated is turned into six meals for hungry people in northern Illinois. For more information, log onto

Contact: Donna Larkin Lake, 630-443-6910 ext. 139

SOURCE Northern Illinois Food Bank