OSWEGO - There was a line of vehicles backed up along Route 71 extending through the Wolf's Crossing Road intersection a block away within an hour after the Kendall County Community Food Pantry's new satellite location opened at East View Academy Friday evening, Nov. 6.
The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education approved the satellite location in partnership with the food pantry at a meeting Aug. 31. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the satellite location will function as a drive-up facility for the first several months of the program.
A soft open was quietly held last month, with about 60 cars. OSD 308 Director of Social Emotional Learning Dr. Heidi Podjasek said that at least 100 cars visited the satellite food pantry within the first 40 minutes of Friday's services.
Originally scheduled to open at 6 p.m. Friday, the line of vehicle stretched through the parking lot well before the start of the program, and prompted volunteers to create two lines of recipients. Cars would pull through the East View Academy parking lot, stopping outside of the gymnasium, where volunteers brought shopping carts full of bags of donated foods out to the cars, and then sending cars out onto Jefferson Street.
Kendall County Food Pantry Board Chairman Greg Witek said that once food bags were prepared and ready to go, volunteers started moving cars through the lines.
The food pantry donations picked up on Friday were sent to the satellite location, Witek said, and then additional goods like meat or frozen foods were picked up from the main food pantry and brought to the satellite.
"Every Friday is a guess," Witek said. "We try and guess what we're going to have. We tried to guess tonight."
Witek said that volunteers anticipated running out of supplies early.
"Based on the number of cars, we're probably going to run into the situation where we have to tell people we're sorry," he said.
Given the nature of the event, Podjasek said that it's heartbreaking.
"Heartbroken that there is this much need, and hopeful that we are able to meet a need at the same time," she said. "It's this weird give and take that really shows how much their need is in this community, and it validates the reasons that we worked on this project for over a year.
"Our goal is to meet this side of Kendall County," Podjasek added. "A lot of our families in this area talked about it's a long way to get to the food pantry in Yorkville, and how do you make the decision between spending the gas money to get there and is it worth it to be able to get the food that you need."
"It's a mixed blessing," Witek said. "It's sad that people have a need, but it's rewarding that we're doing something."
The satellite location will operate on the first Friday of every month, from Oswego's East View Academy, 4175 Route 71, Oswego.