URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The Eastern Illinois Foodbank is expanding its reach into rural communities by unveiling its new Foodmobile program.
The foodbank’s goal is to help support food pantries across their 18-county service region and make sure everyone gets the food they need. But that can be hard to do in rural towns and areas where there are no food pantries.
“Rural communities are unique in that you have to have a car, you have to have transportation to get anywhere to find some of these services, said Kelly Daly, EIF President and CEO.
So the EIF is stepping in to help with a new solution: a pickup truck-hauled trailer that can run routes where the need for food is.
“This mobile trailer enables us to get into places that we’ve never been able to get into before,” said Nikia Hults, EIF Partner Relations Manager. “Essentially food deserts or places that don’t have a lot of resources to get food to the neighbors that need it. This allows us to be able to get into those smaller places that would not otherwise have that opportunity.”
They got the trailer through a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and equipped it with the tools they needed to run it.
“This trailer is designed to carry all types of food,” Daly said. “The dry product, the canned goods, the pasta items and the fresh produce, which is the most nutritious and the thing that we most want to get into the hands of the neighbors.”
A couple of months after a soft opening, the trailer is officially up and running and open for business.
“Being able to go out on these mobile distributions connects back to our mission,” Hults said. “I’m able to see directly the work that we are doing, make an impact for people who actually need it.”
Now it’s time to plan for the future.
“We would like to add additional routes and additional food mobiles or trailers to our routes so we can double up or go back or serve more people more often,” Hults said.
All to help everyone get their necessities.
“My belief is food is not a privilege. It’s a right,” Hults said. “So, they deserve that opportunity just as much as the next person.”
The Foodmobile trailer made its first official trip to Danville Tuesday afternoon. Right now, they have routes planned for rural areas in all the 18 counties they serve.