Posted by Jenny Wojcik on Oct 13, 2021
The Rotary Northeast Chicagoland Passport Club is excited to announce the recently approved District 6440 grant which supports a project which addresses the key area of child and maternal health as well as supporting local economies.   The project targets the ever growing issue of food insecurity and access to fresh produce within our local communities that exist within local food deserts.
The Northeast Chicagoland Passport Club extends throughout District 6440. Several key geographic areas of need in Lake County include North Chicago, Zion, and Waukegan. Ninety percent (90%) of the food provided are shelf stable products only.  There is a deep need for fresh fruits and vegetables to support the nutritional health of those individuals in the community who rely on food pantries for their basic nutritional needs. Poor nutrition is the root cause of many significant health needs such as diabetes and cardiac issues.  Obesity caused by dietary limitations is a key factor in many of these adult onset diseases which often have their roots in childhood. Adding the availability of more fresh fruits and vegetables can assist in making the dietary changes needed a reality.
The district grant provides multiple ways for our Rotary Club members to be involved at various levels. It can also offer those in the club who would like to have some hands on involvement to assist with shopping at the markets, communicating with farmers or making deliveries. The grant activities will take place through November as Farmer’s Markets continue through final harvest times. The $1000 grant ($500 from the district and $500 from donations from members) are being used to purchase fresh produce in large quantities for distribution to three organizations: North Chicago Community Partners Food Pantry, Midwest Veteran’s Closet and the Lake County Haven. 
In addition, the club has assisted with actual gardening and harvesting through a partnership with Rondout School District 72’s community garden.  Superintendent Jenny Wojcik, a Passport Club member, will coordinate the hands-on-gardening for those who are interested.  Several local businesses  Including Impact Networking have also volunteered to work in the school garden as well as some Rondout families to assist during the summer months while students are on break. Produce from the school garden is also donated to the three targeted organizations.
This project serves to support local economy and small farmers as well as those living with food insecurity who are dependent on the food pantries.  It also has health benefits from the standpoint of Maternal and Child Welfare while having fresh fruits and vegetables enhances wellness through enhanced nutritional opportunities.
We are thrilled with the impact of the District grant on the lives of those in need in our communities.  We are exploring how to keep the project going and “growing” in the days ahead. There are so many ways that this project can grow yet at the same time, the current simple plan has already made an enormous impact toward achieving our goal.   Food for Life is truly making a difference in the lives of many families. For more information, please feel free to contact the Club President Ellen Young, or Foundation Chair, Dr. Jenny Wojcik @