Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

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Faculty and students team up with Northern Illinois Food Bank

Faculty and students team up with Northern Illinois Food Bank

In 2017, Northern Illinois Food Bank distributed more than 65.5 million meals in 13 counties in Northwest Illinois.

By Mikal Muhammad | Student Reporter

Northern Illinois Food Bank recently partnered with Quinlan to serve additional food-insecure families by moving beyond traditional food delivery methods.

The project was conducted through Quinlan’s Urban Social Benefit Incubator and managed by Harry Haney, associate director of Quinlan’s Supply and Value Chain Center.

“It’s important to us to serve nonprofits and social enterprises to help make a difference in the community,” says Haney. “Plus, our students are learning the real-world side of business and gaining additional educational exposure.”

Bringing change to the Food Bank

Food-insecure families face many barriers to using traditional food pantries, including finding transportation to pantries during the hours of operation and lingering stigmas around using food pantries.

Northern Illinois Food Bank worked with Quinlan students, faculty, and staff on a new system for serving its families. The team recommended an innovative solution: an online ordering system which allows for pick-up at strategic locations in the community, such as a grocery store.

An additional benefit of online ordering is that families would be more likely to receive the food they need. The Food Bank currently uses a first-come, first-served process that does not guarantee enough food for everyone who comes to the food bank.

The team’s recommendations may soon become a reality. The Food Bank is working toward testing the concept in some of the communities it serves.

A perfect partnership

The Food Bank’s CEO, Julie Yurko, expressed her appreciation for the Loyola team’s insights and their understanding of the food bank’s work.

“The team brought great understanding and compassion to the project, and were really committed to the mission of nonprofit work,” said Yurko.

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