DOT Foods in Mt. Sterling is planning on giving away 1,800 cases of food to families in the area in need tomorrow. Suzy Parn, head of Dot Foods’ corporate charitable programs, says that the leading food distributor has been in constant contact with the Central Illinois Food Bank and has partnered in giving away food to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic: “What’s happening right now is since the middle of March, our charitable giving of food has increased exponentially. We have given away around $10 million worth since the middle of March, and some of that simply had to do with the business environment created by COVID. Hunger is getting worse around the country, and I would say around this area, as well. We talk to Central Illinois Foodbank in Springfield quite a bit and they can tell stories about how bad it is. As we are giving away truckloads of food around the country, we are working with FEMA to make that happen; but we are also trying to make sure we give food here, so we are giving to food pantries and food banks and so forth.”
Parn says that a local entity is partnering with this current food giveaway: “One of the things that the Central Illinois Foodbank told us was that Cass County happens to be one of the underserved counties in terms of having enough resources for the people who really need it. We have started working with them and the Cass County Health Department to put this together because we have the food and they have their resources and their needs. We are just all working together to try to, especially around the holidays, make it just a little bit happier for everyone.”
Parn says that the first food drive-through giveaway, held just before Thanksgiving, provided 6,000 pounds of food to more than 220 cars but still had to turn away multiple families. Parn says she hopes this time around they won’t have to turn anyone away: “There’s probably about 20,000 pounds of food. Yesterday, we were talking about bringing over more like 18,000 pounds of food, but we have added to it since then. We are not going to run out this time. Last time, the number of people who showed up were way beyond what anyone thought would happen. We gave away to 250 families, and there was still people in line. We don’t want that to happen this time, so we are bringing a lot.”
The donated food will be an assortment of items. Cases of food will be available for pick-up starting at 10 a.m. at the Beardstown Elks Lodge located at 205 East Second Street. Cars can line up on Main Street in an effort to prevent any traffic problems. Parn says that taking care of local communities at each of their distribution centers across the country is a core value of DOT Foods.