Illinois Valley Food Pantry in La Salle has put out the call for more food donations heading toward Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Usually we do all right in the summer but at the end of the summer we really have to start asking for food," said Donna Hess, director of the pantry.

Not this year. There were plenty of donations in late summer. The decrease came this month, Hess said.

"I sent out notices to churches and schools reminding them of our needs," she said. "This is the time when we count on the public to help us out. I'm starting to, not really panic, but be concerned."

The pantry had been serving 675 people earlier this fall. Now there are 740 families qualified to pick up food at the pantry, 136 Marquette St., La Salle.

"I'm expecting 750 for Thanksgiving," Hess said. The pantry hands out food to qualifying families each Thanksgiving. This year's distribution will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Interested families must register ahead of time.

"We want to make sure everybody gets a nice Thanksgiving basket," Hess said.

Qualifying families get to pick up a box of food each month. This month and next, they'll get two boxes because of the holidays.

"That's a lot of food that we pack and distribute," Hess said. "We would hate to have to cut back."

Donated food must be nonperishable.

On Nov. 21, the day of the Thanksgiving distribution, Hy-Vee shoppers in Peru can donate to the pantry through the "Fill the Mayflower" drive sponsored by WLPO-AM 1220 radio. Customers can pay for a pre-packaged bag of groceries that will be loaded onto a truck and delivered to the pantry.

"That's very, very helpful to us during the holidays," Hess said.

Contact the food pantries:

IV Food Pantry, 126 Marquette St., La Salle (815) 224-3658 ... Project Success, 500 N. Terry, Spring Valley, (815) 663-2085 ... Community Food Basket, 519 W. Madison St., Ottawa, (815) 431-0155 ... Mendota Area Christian Food Pantry, 918 Main, (815) 538-2211 ... Putnam County Food Pantry, Box 96, Granville IL 61326

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