Volunteer Wanda (left), Food Pantry Manager Willa (center), and Volunteer Cheryl (right) at the East Bluff Porch Concerts, summer 2019

The EBCC Impact: Food Pantry & The Heart that Goes into It

The East Bluff Community Center’s (EBCC) is a vibrant place to gather that fosters community engagement and neighborhood stabilization. One of the EBCC’s impacts on the community is the food pantry that is hosted here. The food pantry is made possible by the passion and dedication of its volunteers.

Since the East Bluff’s Kroger grocery store on Wisconsin Avenue closed, many people in the neighborhood do not have the same access to the food that they did just a few years ago. Once COVID-19 ravaged job prospects and opportunities available to them, Peorians increasingly turned to the EBCC’s Saturday morning food pantry for food assistance. That is where Willa Lucas comes in.

Willa has been the EBCC’s Food Pantry Manager for the last five years. When asked why she decided to voluntarily run the food pantry, Willa said that “whether it was in education, working for the housing authority, or corrections, I have had a peacemaker role my whole life.” When it comes to the formation of our pantry, Willa stated that once the idea was approved by the EBCC board, she raised her hand and said, “I’ll try that.”

With the weekly help of a group of hard-working volunteers, Willa and the East Bluff Community Center made 1,800 disbursements of healthy and staple food items to local families last year alone. Shoppers receive a pre-packed bag of a week’s worth of groceries and have access to bread, canned goods, bakery items, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and frozen meat selections as well.

When asked why she chooses to dedicate so much time to the food pantry, Willa said “I took the advice I always gave my daughter, which was to follow your passion and do something about it.” Thanks to Willa’s passion, folks in the East Bluff know where to turn at times when they can benefit from a little extra food.

If you or anyone you know could benefit from the EBCC food pantry, please come visit us the first four Saturday mornings of every month from 8:30am – noon. If you would like to donate food or financially support the East Bluff Community Center, please call us at (309) – 839 – 0781 or visit eastbluffcommunitycenter.org today.