Bradley’s Feeding Mission program was such as success — it distributed more than twice the amount of food it had initially planned — the village is looking to do a second round.
The village has also extended an invitation to every other Kankakee County community to partner with the village and distribute even more food.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson noted the village was hoping to distribute 1,000 packages of food during the program this winter. Instead, the program, which offered food pickup to any village resident regardless of income, distributed 2,287 packages.
Watson sent letters to every Kankakee County municipality this past week, including the Kankakee County administration, asking if they would like to participate.
He would like to continue using the former Carson’s men’s store site at the Northfield Square mall, which the village owns, as the collection and distribution point.
The village spent about $200,000 of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant on food which it distributed three times a week from late Nov. 30 through Dec. 21.
Watson said the program was successful and he is hopeful it will continue perhaps as early as late January, but more likely February.
The village is seeking to have its grant extended. It is also looking at other institutions, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help fund other feeding programs.
“We did a decent job of getting the word out. The fact the program had no income level restrictions helped. We want to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. All were welcomed,” Watson said.
He said the large number who either responded to the drive-thru service at the former Carson’s or who requested home-delivered food speaks to the need.
Watson noted the timing of the program — near the Christmas holiday — may have helped participation as people were spending money on holiday gifts.
But, not matter the timing, Watson believes there are many people in need of help and Bradley is not the only place were the need for food is acute.
Thus, he is hopeful leaders of other communities in the county will respond and become part of the Feeding Mission.
“We can be the hub,” he said. “We’ll see if there’s any interest. If we can get more on board, we have a great location available to help people.”