Dot Foods helps Beardstown couple launch food pantry; volunteers now needed


Front row, from left: Joe Engelbrecht, Sarah Engelbrecht and Bri Shaw; Back row from left; Brittany Cowan, Jessica Mock, Michelle Bedenbender, Katie Berens and John Sutor. | Photo courtesy of Dot Foods

BEARDSTOWN, Ill. — Beardstown residents have worked for almost two years to start a food pantry. A ribbon cutting and open house was held on Friday, Jan. 13.

The Beardstown Food Pantry, 121 E. Second, is open from 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. The food pantry entrance is off Main Street at the rear of the Community Hope and Recovery building. Organizers hope to add additional days as they gauge community response and acquire more volunteer support.

Dot Foods, Inc., the nation’s largest food industry redistributor, made an initial donation of $20,000 and 5,000 pounds of food to the Beardstown Food Pantry to fill its shelves for the opening weekend. Dot will continue to help the food pantry and the community with donations.

In a press release, Suzy Parn, director of Dot’s Corporate Charitable Program, said “We are so happy to help with the launch of the Beardstown Food Pantry. Fighting hunger is a charitable cause close to our heart at Dot. Food is our business, and we want to do our part to help make sure none of our neighbors have to worry about where their next meal will come from. This is a way we can offer additional support to the organizations who are doing the important work of keeping our neighbors fed.”

The Beardstown food pantry was founded by Joe and Sarah Engelbrecht, who saw how great the need for food support was in their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Engelbrechts worked to help establish an on-campus food pantry for students at Beardstown High School and realized they wanted to do more.

“We made good progress with a building and supplies and started looking for food donations,” Joe said. “The community has been really supportive. Knowing that Dot is a big supporter of the school’s Tiger Pantry, they were one of the first businesses we approached. They helped with both monetary and food donations to help get the pantry off the ground. The funds they have provided to date will go toward a cooler as well as other business essentials, like insurance and internet and phone lines.”

The pantry is similar to a grocery store, so clients can select the types and amount of food they need for their family. The founders’ research showed this store setup typically provides higher satisfaction and less waste for those visiting the pantry.

Organizers are asking for volunteers. To learn more about the food pantry or to volunteer, visit the Beardstown Food Pantry Facebook page.

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