Mayor Tom McNamara and members of the Mayor’s Hunger Campaign committee kick off the annual fundraising push on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at City Hall in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Mayor’s Hunger Campaign has kicked off its annual push to support local food pantries with a goal to raise $50,000 by fall.

The campaign was launched Wednesday at City Hall with Mayor Tom McNamara, members of the campaign and members of the Greater Rockford Pantry Coalition, which benefits from the fundraiser.

The fundraising campaign runs through fall, when a breakfast or luncheon is held to close the initiative. Details of that event are still being finalized. The campaign raised $49,510.53 last year, aided in part by an anonymous matching donation of $15,000.

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Money raised is shared equally by the nine pantries that are part of the coalition: Rock River Valley Pantry, Christian Union Pantry, UITC Lighthouse Pantry, St. Elizabeth Pantry, Cornucopia Food Pantry, Salvation Army Pantry, Emmanuel Lutheran Pantry, God’s Glory Food Pantry and Soul’s Harbor Pantry.

The pantries serve a variety of people in need: seniors on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, low-income families, the working poor, homeless people and families facing temporary emergencies such as unexpected medical expenses, said Kevin Goodrich, president of the Greater Rockford Pantry Coalition and co-director of God’s Glory Food Pantry at Total Faith Community Church.

“It could be any of us that is in one of these positions at any time,” Goodrich said. “These people are trying very hard to make ends meet and they’re not making it all the way.”

How to donate | Mayor’s Hunger Campaign

To learn more about the Mayor’s Hunger Campaign or to donate, visit and click donate now.

Donations also can be mailed to Greater Rockford Pantry Coalition (GRPC), PO Box 17051, Rockford , IL 61110.

All donations are tax deductible.

The campaign is starting as pantries are again seeing an increase in need with rising food costs and inflation. The number of clients served at Rock River Valley Pantry, the largest in the coalition, is up 28% compared to this point last year, McNamara said.

The mayor noted that none of the money donated goes to administrative costs. The campaign uses 95% of the funds to purchase and acquire food for clients and the other 5% on infrastructure needs such as refrigeration, storage and carrying bags for patrons.

“This goes to putting food on the table of our friends, our family members, our neighbors and our colleagues,” McNamara said.

This year the campaign partnered with the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois for the first time. The foundation will process donations and generate tax receipts, as well as providing other donation infrastructure and support.

Kevin Goodrich, president of the Greater Rockford Pantry Coalition, talks Wednesday, May 15, 2024, about the increased need in the community during the kickoff for the Mayor’s Hunger Campaign at City Hall. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Mike Cieslak, chairman of the Mayor’s Hunger Campaign committee, challenged people to donate $24 each. The number was chose both for its memorability — it’s the year 2024 — and because of how far those dollars can stretch for local pantries.

“There’s a lot that each pantry can do with $24, because when they buy in bulk that $24 goes a long way,” Cieslak said.

The Mayor’s Hunger Campaign was started in the 1980s by McNamara’s father, then-Mayor John McNamara. After a decade hiatus, it was revived by the younger McNamara in 2018. The fundraiser benefited the Roots & Wings youth urban agriculture program led by Angelic Organics Learning Center in its first year and has benefited the pantry coalition since 2019.

“When you give to us, you’re helping us to deliver these services and food to these people,” Goodrich said. “In a sense, and I think a very real sense, you’re the handing that’s feeding these people when you give some money to it.”

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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