HCS needs extend beyond Hunger Action Month

If you’ve visited the website for HCS Family Services this month, you’ve seen some pretty funny pleas for donations.

“Let’s roll with it!”

“Nothing is impastable!”

“Just pudding it out there”

The seemingly endless scroll of catchy phrases encourages folks to donate everything from toilet paper to pasta to pudding during September, which is Hunger Action Month.

The blurbs actually identify the top 30 needs for those served by HCS Family Services’ two food pantries, one at the Hinsdale Memorial Building and one at Anne M. Jeans School in Willowbrook.

The two locations combined serve more than 200 neighbors each week and distribute almost 600,000 pounds of food each year.

HCS saw a dramatic increase in need when the pandemic first hit in the spring of 2020, and people still are struggling, according to Wendy Michalski, HCS executive director. And many of those families live right here in town.

“When we look at where our neighbors reside, and we look at our top five towns, Hinsdale is No. 5,” she said. “There is a great need right here in our community, whether it’s because of an employment issue, a divorce issue — there is need right here.”

As part of the Northern Illinois Food Bank system, HCS can buy $8 worth of groceries for just $1. But sometimes clients need items that often are not available from the food bank.

“We desperately need diapers for both adults and babies,” Michalski said. “We need cat food and personal items. We try to give people what they need.”

She listed shampoo, laundry detergent and gluten-free foods as other items that are in high demand.

While today is the final day of Hunger Action Month, HCS continues to need the support for its day-to-day operations and holiday initiatives.

Tomorrow the agency will begin accepting applications from people who want to participate in the Holiday Gift Assistance Program, which is open to anyone who received food from an HCS food pantry between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year. Organizations can sign up to purchase gifts by contacting Michalski at [email protected] or (630) 884-9117.

HCS provides a special Thanksgiving meal to neighbors each year as well.

Their work truly makes a difference. Michalski shared a story from a neighbor who has been coming in on a regular basis. The woman stopped Michalski to let her know she wouldn’t be coming by as often, as she had gotten a full-time job.

“We couldn’t have made it over the hump without you,” she told Michalski.

HCS couldn’t make it without the 100 volunteers who help distribute food each week and the donors — both individuals and organizations — who offer their support.

“It’s just such a blessing that we have such community support,” Michalski said.

Hinsdaleans who would like to help can visit the HCS website at https://www.hcsfamilyservices.org to see a wish list of items or make a donation online.

While Hunger Action Month comes to a close today, opportunities to give do not. So follow the advice of one of the website blurbs: “Don’t miss oat!”