Quick Recap — Our Neighbors in Desperate Need

In response to the current COVID crisis in the community, United Way of McLean County (UWMC), with the input of local government agencies and other stakeholders has identified food insecurity/access to food as a key basic and urgent need. To address this need, in just a few short weeks, UWMC has partnered with existing initiatives, brought additional resources
to bear, and invested in the following efforts:

1. School Food Program Supplementation: uses existing food programs in local school districts, which have access to households and will utilize their established communication and distribution infrastructure to quickly identify needs and deliver food, sourced from Midwest Food Bank, local grocers and farmers.

2. Rapidly scale grassroots efforts: Expand food provision to the larger community of at-risk families’ in-need. Supports and provisions existing efforts like Feed Bloomington-Normal Kids and provides additional distribution infrastructure as needed. Sources food from local restaurants (and collaterally supports their employees with work). Use local non-profit organizations for communications, needs identification, and distribution sites.

Fundraising to meet these emergency needs are ongoing.

Metrics & Reporting

Food Distribution outcomes:

1. School Program Supplementation: Three school districts, LeRoy, Lexington, and Ridgeview, piloted this effort this week. Over 500 pounds of fresh produce from local supplier PrairiErth Farms (pictured throughout), along with bread, chicken broth, and Tender Mercies from Midwest Food Bank, helped feed over 110 families.

2. Rapidly scale grassroots efforts: UWMC, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and local restaurants served over 7,400 meals the week of April 13 with nine partnering organizations at twelve sites, making more than 18,400 meals served as of April 17.

Additional updates:

The Advisory Taskforce (see members below) has met 4 times over the last 2 weeks. Here are some
key accomplishments to date:

  • Leveraging local farm surplus to effectively supplement nutritious food into the effort
    • PrairiErth Farms currently being used for fresh produce
    • Kilgus Dairy (and others) have been contacted about surplus dairy products
  • Bringing new restaurants into the effort to serve more diverse populations
    • For example, Fiesta Ranchera to support the local Hispanic population
  • Starting a resource database to capture various community efforts related to this
  • Identifying mechanisms to surface other areas of need and other populations in need in our community

The following leaders have graciously agreed to serve on the task force, which meets twice a week:

David Hirst, Board President, Immigration Project
Mercy Davison, City Planner, Town of Normal
Mike Jones, Board President, Western Avenue & Retired State Farm Executive
Ray Ropp, Local Farmer and Normal Township Trustee
Tara Ingram, Executive Director, Midwest Food Bank and Promise Council Board Member
Tony Coletta, Board Chair, Community Compact & CHCC; VP-HR at Advocate BroMenn
Tyler Hari, Executive Pastor, Eastview Christian Church
Aaron Hayes, Board President, IPCF
Barry Reilly, District-87 Superintendent
Deanna Frautschi (Chair), Past United Way Board Chair & Retired EVP-Country Financial
Gary Tipsord, Leroy CUSD’s Superintendent
Jeff Leverton, Board President, Boys & Girls Club
Karen Schmidt, WBRP Board Member, Ex-Alderperson for City of Bloomington
Dayna Brown (New Addition), Director of Communications and Community Relations, Unit 5
Melissa Hon (New Addition), Economic Development Director, City of Bloomington

…and Beyond

What’s next for the effort?

  • Exploring additional food support efforts with Midwest Food Bank and Eastview Christian Church to provide a “staple bag” in addition to the boxed meals
    • Goal of increasing Eastview’s existing efforts by another 50 to 100 staple bags (shelf stable food)
    • Goal to achieve this sometime in the next 1 to 2 weeks
  • Conducting exploratory conversations with key stakeholders in how to effectively provide shelter assistance
  • Continuing dialogue with EDC and others on preliminary re-skilling and up-skilling efforts for displaced employees, particularly among “at-risk” populations

We would like to hear other suggestions you might have as concerned community members.
Please email David Taylor, CEO, United Way of McLean County at dtaylor@uwaymc.org . 4