Cook County FB's Food Pantry Project Wins National Award
As visits to local food pantries skyrocketed during the pandemic, Cook County Farm Bureau stepped up to ensure food-insecure families would have a place to turn for help.
During the past year and a half, Farm Bureau staff and volunteers rolled out a three-prong approach to strengthen the food support network throughout Cook County. The Food Pantry Support project included in-person efforts to purchase and deliver food and member donations to partner food pantries; online engagement to raise awareness of area food pantries, their needs and service areas; and a grant program for local food pantries to expand their food offerings or facility in light of unprecedented need due to the pandemic.
Overall, the project directly impacted more than 7,400 individuals, engaged 15 Farm Bureau and 153 community volunteers, and 72 community partners.
The project was recognized in September when the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) named the CCFB’s program one of six recipients of the 2021 Power of A Awards.
“We’re very excited and we’re very fortunate,” said Bona Heinsohn, director of governmental affairs and public relations with Cook County Farm Bureau.
The Power of A Summit Awards were created to celebrate and promote the invaluable contributions that associations make to America and the world, and is ASAE’s highest honor for the association community.
“The award recognizes the power that nonprofits can have when they’re working together, and we were really fortunate with working with a number of food pantries and members and Country Financial agencies ... it was really cool to see all of the different groups, and all these different entities work together for a common good,” Heinsohn said.
Farm Bureau members responded when they saw the tremendous strain on food pantries by providing food and donations.
“And really, they created a model going forward that we’re able to use and we’re looking into different avenues to support our food pantries,” she said, adding the project initially partnered with 64 food pantries and project organizers will be seeking new pantries to help in the coming year.
“Within Cook County, there’s so many more,” Heinsohn said. “And part of it is just building those relationships and building awareness that our Bureau’s here and we want to help.”
This is the second Summit Award received by the Cook County Farm Bureau. In 2012, the organization was recognized with the Power of A Summit award for the organization’s efforts to support area Ronald McDonald House Charities.
“We are so very proud of the efforts made through the generous support of many members to provide food and resources for food pantries across the Chicagoland area during this very difficult time of the pandemic,” said Janet McCabe, president of the Cook County Farm Bureau.
Cook County Farm Bureau’s food pantry support project included in-person efforts to purchase and deliver food and member donations to partner food pantries; online engagement to raise awareness of area food pantries, their needs, and service areas; and a grant program for local food pantries to expand their food offerings or facility in light of unprecedented need. Overall, this project directly impacted over 7,400 individuals, as well as engaged 153 association volunteers and 72 community partners. Cook County Farm Bureau members attending the American Society of Association Executives awards ceremony included President Janet McCabe (pictured center); Secretary Ruth Zeldenrust; staff Bona Heinsohn; and manager Bob Rohrer. They are flanked by various leaders of the ASAE Board of Directors.
Cook County Farm Bureau® President Janet McCabe (pictured right) accepts the 2021 Power of Associations Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives® during the first in-person award ceremony in over a year. Cook County Farm Bureau was named a Summit Award winner for its food pantry support project which was designed to assist food insecure families and local food pantries experiencing exponential need due to the on-going pandemic and existing systematic inequalities that existed pre-pandemic.