MARIE WILKINSON FOUNDATION

Nourishing Lives since 1957

aka Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry   |   Aurora, IL   |  www.mariewilkinsonfoodpantry.org

Mission

The Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry dedicates all time and effort to providing food, empowerment, and education to those in need across Aurora, the greater Kane County region as well as surrounding counties.

Ruling year info

2003

Executive Director

Diane Renner

Main address

834 N Highland Ave

Aurora, IL 60506 USA

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EIN

65-1169439

NTEE code info

Emergency Assistance (Food, Clothing, Cash) (P60)

Food Banks, Food Pantries (K31)

Food Service, Free Food Distribution Programs (K30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Food Pantry - Supplemental Food Distribution

Population(s) Served

MWFP serves food to more than 6,600 patrons each year through its west and east-side Aurora locations. Our history dates back to 1957, the MWFP provides food, groceries, and other essentials to families and individuals with financial struggles. The MWFP distribution structure centers around “Patron Choice”: a system that gives every patron the power to choose from multiple options based on their independent wants and needs. Once a week, families receive a 4 – 5 day supply of living necessities. Patrons choose from a wide array of groceries, including fresh produce, frozen meats, dairy, deli, and shelf-stable items. The MWFP encourages good nutrition by promoting healthy grains, protein, fruit, vegetables, and dairy.

Population(s) Served

The MWFP has developed 71 garden plots for patrons to harvest fresh produce for themselves or the pantries. Volunteers and patrons assist in garden maintenance.

Population(s) Served

With a main goal centered on empowering patrons, the MWFP strives to help struggling individuals discover ways to provide for themselves and their families. Through the cooperation of partner organizations within the area (who support the MWFP free of charge), program participants are handed tools they can use to reclaim a sense of independence.

Population(s) Served

By rescuing food and milk from local stores and institutions, the MWFP attains enough supplies to meet the demands of a growing, local epidemic: hunger. Without the generosity of these partners, thousands would go without the basic necessities to survive. Additionally, food not rescued/repurposed would be tossed away from sore and institutions.

Population(s) Served

Understanding the importance of nutrition, the MWFP educates patrons on how they can sustain a nutritious lifestyle in their homes. In order to be fully self-sufficient, individuals and families must know how to shop wisely, choosing the best food and beverage options. Through the MWFP nutrition program, patrons learn key skills to keep them and their families happy and healthy

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

From its conception in 1957, the MWFP has set out to restore hope in the low-income population of Kane County. Starting in a small house on View Street in Aurora, MWFP has developed into a multi-site, multi-service organization designed to match the growing needs of neighbors within the region. All the while, MWFP stays grounded in grassroots community support, never losing sight of the original vision Marie Wilkinson developed over a half-century ago.
Back in November of 2011, the Board of Directors at MWFP collaborated with members of the local region to develop a five-year plan. This plan centers around these main aspirations:
1. To remain integrated with the Kane County community by promoting the involvement of patrons, sponsors, and volunteers in the organization's present and future operations
2. To expand the organization's reach and raise awareness and support for those in need
3. To promote empowerment and self-sufficiency through educational and social services, and “Patron Choice"—an effort to give patrons a sense of autonomy by offering them a diverse selection of nutritious food and other basic living necessities
4. To maintain ethical and legal accountability through honest management and transparency of all organization operations
5. To seek out more volunteers and sponsors willing to donate their time and resources to a worthy cause
The MWFP's strategies for 2016 – 2017 do not lose sight of the goals that have guided it over the previous five years. This updated plan merely reinforces the focus on three core priorities: (1) refining prior methods to better deliver services to both pantries, (2) ensuring exceptional programs and services to patrons, and (3) increasing community involvement.
By following these goals, MWFP has remained a safe haven where those in need can find comfort in knowing that their neighbors are there to help them through the most difficult times in their lives.

2) What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen? The MWFP applies several methods to ensure that each of their goals stays within reach. For example, after a series of surveys, organization members recognized that 68% of patrons hoped for more milk to be available at the pantries. Further investigation, conducted through nutritional assessments, concluded that grocery options supplied at the pantries provided inadequate levels of dietary calcium. In response, MWFP started a campaign to acquire more milk. This campaign thrived, allowing the pantries to preserve a consistent volume of milk and yogurt, thus aiding patrons' calcium intake. Moreover, this influx of calcium-rich products helped to supplement the “School Nutrition Initiative," which contributes healthy breakfast and summer lunches to school-aged children in need.
The previous example highlights the greatest strength of the MWFP: its advocates. They make each and every one of the organization's strategies function effectively. Through their efforts, MWFP has developed key strategies to perpetuate its success:
1. Sustain organizational/operational performance by remaining financially practical, using every resource to its fullest potential, retaining an understanding of current trends to better match the major issues in the fight against hunger, and closely monitoring program and partnership productivity
2. Expand sponsor, partner, donor, and volunteer base by growing stronger connections to the public, offering more fundraising opportunities, implementing marketing strategies that appeal to businesses and community members, and dedicating resources to branding
3. Maintain facilities by developing concrete operational criteria for facilities that fit both government and ethical guidelines, utilizing the value of available technology, optimizing the gardens to stock pantries with more nutritious foods, and recruiting new, highly trained volunteers to support each facility
The core contributors to the MWFP come together each quarter to design new ideas to ensure that the organization upholds the aspirations that they have set out to achieve. Dedicated, collaborative action from everyone within the MWFP organization, especially the passionate volunteer base, continues to offer hope to thousands of lives.

By drawing upon the strength of its phenomenal volunteers, MWFP can accomplish its bold aspirations. The MWFP identifies and capitalizes on each volunteer's expertise to render the best services and programs to patrons while also seeking to move the organization forward. For example, our recent project is working with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Presence Medical Center offering a 10 week education program on diabetes management. The MWFP also works with CPAs, lawyers, doctors, business owners, political figures, engineers, corporate executives, and public relation specialists—all in an effort to reach their organizational goals.
The history behind MWFP's community involvement stems back from Marie Wilkinson's initial commitment decades ago. Through surveys, requests, and inquiries, the MWFP preserves that same commitment, identifying the needs of patrons. MWFP contacts local organizations/businesses to discuss strategies and shared goals, leading to partnerships that directly address patrons' needs.
The local support from grocery stores, such as Jewel, Aldi's, Prisco's Family Market, and Save-A-Lot (just to name a few), represents a critical community-based series of partnerships that sustains a regular presence of rescued groceries available for their patrons. Meat, produce, dairy, and bread arrive at their pantries strictly out of the generosity of these cooperating stores. Their kindness reflects the same values that the MWFP hopes to relay to everyone in the Kane County region.

MWFP has successfully expanded its reach to help more of the growing number of low-income individuals in Kane County. The different programs and events initiated by MWFP have strengthened the bond between neighbors and raised awareness of the issues that still threaten the region. MWFP expanded its west side facility by 2,000 square feet in 2013 to meet the growing need for hunger relief while also adding a waiting area that shows a healthy eating and living presentation. In 2015, MWFP opened its second pantry on the east side of Aurora after survey results uncovered an overwhelming need for their services in that section of the city. This second pantry has seen tremendous growth since its opening as many former west-side patrons now have a reliable support center closer to their homes. As MWFP continues on its path towards a better Kane County, it has leaned on the generosity of all the neighbors who have joined them along the way. However, this path will always be long and arduous. For this reason, the people at MWFP will always appreciate the help of new partners willing to give to an important cause.

Financials

MARIE WILKINSON FOUNDATION
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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MARIE WILKINSON FOUNDATION

Board of directors
as of 09/16/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Theodia Gillespie

Quad County Urban League


Board co-chair

Brian Dolan

Dolan & Murphy Commercial Real Estate

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/16/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data