MARION, ILLINOIS (WSIL) — Countless families throughout southern Illinois have received help from food giveaways, and one that has played a large part is the Laborers Local 773 pandemic distribution.
The group hit a milestone now holding drive-thru events for a year and throughout that time has given out more than 1.5 million pounds of food. That means each week 600 to 1,200 neighbors in need are going home with extra groceries.
Jerry Womick, who is the Business Manager for the local and volunteers at the giveaways, says it began small.
"We started with one event taking care of 200 of our retirees here in our parking lot and at the end of the day we really thought that we had accomplished something."
Through a USDA grant and teaming up with food distributor Cusumano and Sons, the Laborers Local 773 held giveaways in 2020 from the end of spring to fall.
Those took place all across the region from Mt. Vernon to Cairo including areas that already struggle with food scarcity despite the pandemic.
"It’s new people. It’s not the same folks week after week," Womick explains. "Some of these small towns, there’s still no grocery store. A lot of people have transportation issues."
However, another food distributor received the grant for the holidays and was not willing to deliver to southern Illinois. So, the group and local lawmakers like State Senator Dale Fowler worked to change that.
The distribution restarted this February and will last through the end of September.
Womick says he hopes the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but neighbors in the region are still feelings its impacts from college students to families and seniors.
"What we’ve noticed is that the need hasn’t gone away," he states. "Folks are still lining up hours ahead of time. We’re having great turnout. "
He adds that volunteers are still calling every week to help put the boxes of food into trunks and backseats.
"Volunteers are still hanging in there strong, helping," Womick says. "We’re just happy and blessed to be able to continue on with this."
A food distribution where 600 boxes of food will be given away is taking place on May 7 at the Herrin Civic Center starting at 9 a.m.
The Laborers Local gives updates on its distributions here.
May 7, 2021 at 08:28AM