SHARE Food’s service to end with December 2010 distribution

SHARE Food of Central Illinois, an ecumenical program sponsored for 24 years by the Diocese of Peoria, will end its services with the December 2010 food distribution.

In recent years, the program’s model of volume-based buying, value-based pricing, and sorting and distribution by hundreds of volunteers has faced economic challenges, according to an Oct. 22 release from the Diocese of Peoria.

“Just like similar organizations nationally, we, too, have seen dramatic increases in trucking fees, fuel and food costs, and competition of supermarkets with similar value pricing,” said a statement from the Board of Directors of the Share Food Program of Central Illinois.

With more host sites cancelling orders in the last year, the program has lost significant revenue. Board President Robert Picton said that the difficult decision to end services was made following “a critical look at forecasting our sustainability.”

“While the news of ending SHARE Food services will be a great loss to many people who have come to consider SHARE Food family,” said the board statement, “please know that we would not be making this decision if it were in any way avoidable.”

“Rather than mourning our closing,” the board continued, “we should all use this as an opportunity to celebrate the impact our SHARE Food ministry has had for almost a quarter of a century in our communities.”

The board’s statement is set to appear in the next SHARE newsletter.

The program in central Illinois traces its beginning to October 1986 and the opening of the first food distribution center off Galena Road in Peoria. John Truitt Sr. was the first director, and the program was embraced by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke and the Diocese of Peoria.

The program grew, and at the peak of distribution there were 310 host sites, including beyond the borders of the diocese and the state. The main distribution center was moved in the early 1990s to the former Colonial Bakery building at 1825 N.E. Adams in Peoria.

“We want to thank the countless volunteers of SHARE Food for providing our communities with a unique combination of nutritious food and spiritual nourishment with its ecumenical community of people, coming together to help one another,” said Patricia Gibson, chancellor for the Diocese of Peoria.

“We also commend the Board of Directors for their ability to critically assess the fiscal operation of this program and that ending services was the most prudent decision moving foreward,” she added.

SHARE Food will be in full operation — with food quality, value and service maintained — until its last distribution on Dec. 18. A warehouse sale is scheduled for Jan. 8 at the Peoria distribution center.

“Let us always remember the SHARE Food ministry for the unconditional gifts we gave our communities, going well beyond nutritious valued food,” said the board statement. The SHARE Food family answered Christ’s call of “people helping people,” the board added, noting “no service for Christ goes unnoticed by Him.”

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