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News & Updates

Feeding B/N And Beyond



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 need and deliver food, sourced from Midwest Food Banjimbo1

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 centers.




Food Distribution outcomes:

1. School Program Supplementation: Food has been sourced for this effort — 10 pallets of tender mercies meals have been ordered from Midwest Food Bank for $8,000. Each pallet contains 1,320 bags. Each bag feeds a family of 4. Partnership has been established with Illinois State University (ISU) to leverage their warehouse for storage. Distribution to local schools (LeRoy, etc.) will start in the next few days. District 87 requested boxed meals and their need is addressed through the next effort outlined below.

2. Rapidly scale grassroots efforts: UWMC, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and local restaurants served 5,000 meals week of March 30 with five partnering organizations. Another 6,180 meals were served the week of April 6 , partnering with eight organizations. Additional organizations are expected to be added to serve more families-in-need the week of April 13.


The following distribution report provides additional details:




Fundraising results and expenditures:

  1. Individual donor fundraising efforts in the last two weeks helped raise over $55,000.
  2. At least four large employers have made a commitment to sponsor a day or sizable portion of the meal expense.
  3. UWMC has been approved for a $100,000 grant from the State IL-COVID Relief Fund.
  4. The Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington/Normal leveraged a USDA grant to support up to 50% of the current cost of meals distributed through Food Distribution Outcome #2 (above). The end date for this support is undetermined.
  5. Expenditures from the Covid-19 Community Care Fund for Food Distribution Outcome #2 (above) have been approximately $33,400 for 11,180 meals.
  6. Since it is undetermined what period of time such food support is going to be necessary, it is readily apparent that additional resources are going to be required. Fundraising to meet this emergency is ongoing.

Additional updates:

1. An advisory task force consisting of leaders from local nonprofits, schools, churches and hospitals was formed on Thursday, April 2. The primary objectives for the taskforce are:

a. Help generate and execute actionable ideas to scale and sustain the UWMC food relief efforts (Feeding BN & Beyond) in McLean County through existing distributions networks (Ex: Schools, Nonprofits, Churches, Food Pantries, etc.)

b. Share knowledge and expertise to help identify future needs (Ex: Rental, utility or child care assistance) brought about by COVID-19 and potential solutions to address them c. Assist in developing a holistic coalition to help ensure that various efforts in McLean County are coordinated in response to the crisis with one voice

2. 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

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 .

April 10th, 2020