The Will County Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships collaborative has worked with Will County’s GIS Division to create a website allowing those in need to find locations for food.
Will County residents can go on the website and click on four different tabs that provide these food access maps. The first one shows all micro-pantries within Will and Grundy counties. These pantries are outside various police, hospital and service locations.
Micro-pantries are accessible
24 hours a day and are designed to allow anonymous food pickup for those in need and a drop-off point for those who wish to help.
Another tab shows the locations of
55 food pantries in and around Will County. Food pantries are permanent locations that distribute food directly to residents at low to no cost.
The map also includes food distribution schedules, dates, hours of service, locations and eligibility requirements for each pantry.
A third tab includes the schedule of upcoming mobile pantries, which are food distributions off refrigerated trucks for northern Illinois food banks. A mobile pantry includes frozen meat, fresh produce, bread and nutritious nonperishable items. Residents from the community sign in and walk around the truck to select food that best meets their families’ nutritional needs. Each mobile pantry distribution lasts two hours and provides nutritious food to as many as 250 families.
A fourth tab offers a look at the We WILL Grow School and Community Garden Program. Started in 2014, the mission of the garden program is to teach all residents of Will County the ease of growing fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Garden Program’s intent was to develop gardens that would share their harvest with those in need. The goal has changed to the construction of gardens in communities that are “food deserts,” in close proximity to food pantries providing fresh fruit and vegetables.
The long-term goal of the Garden Program is to produce a plentiful seasonal supply of fresh fruit and vegetables to underserved communities and show area developers that there is a demand for healthy food to support economic development in “food desert” communities.
For information about the We WILL Grow School and Community Garden Program, visit the Will County website.
To view the food access map, visit willcountymapp.org.