How it Started
Nourish 282 began in 2014 as an outreach project organized by co-founders Julie Pierce and Sara McGrath providing winter outerwear for families in need. It was from that first Free Store that Julie and Sara were able to ascertain if there were further needs being unmet in the community. “We were able to gently ask families directly if there were ever concerns about having enough food at home,” said Julie when asked how it all started. She went on, “I distinctly remember asking a mom about food scarcity. I knew from the look on her face that she was uneasy, nervous even, and wasn’t sure how to respond. It was then that her 7 or 8 year old daughter looked up at her mom and said, “You can tell her the truth Mom”.
For Julie and Sara, it was a moment of levity, of understanding the trust families were placing in front of them. Hearing directly from families at that initial Free Store that food insecurity was at the top of their list, Nourish 282 was born.
Nourish initially offered food support in the form of weekend food bags provided in partnership with Every Meal (formerly The Sheridan Story). Volunteers privately delivered non-perishable food bags to classrooms after school hours, students would take home a small bag each Friday for their families.
A couple of years in, Julie stumbled across a podcast on Racist Sandwich, featuring Ijeoma Oluo, author of “So You Want to Talk About Race” and “Mediocre”. It was titled “Tasting Something Other Than Shame” (Episode 52). Ijeoma tells the story of growing up in poverty with very little food, no phone, and often no electricity, when one day her mother brings home a Boston cream pie. Ijeoma unpacks so much of the ‘expectations’ of the poor and the shame that is associated with living in poverty.
Hearing Ijeoma talk about poverty and shame immediately changed the way Nourish served. Within months Nourish reinvented itself and created a food security program that would offer dignity, self choice, and take the onus off of the child. Today, the largest initiative is their Food Program.
How it’s Going
The Food Program includes monthly support in the form of a grocery store gift card and a small pantry with household products, personal care items, infant care, and pet needs. The gift card initiative provides an allotment per child, per month. For example, a family with 3 students would receive $150 in their gift card allotment. Nourish strongly believes in providing choice for families enrolled in the Food Program. The gift cards offer that self choice.
Each month families can also choose to receive items from the pantry. Enrolled families fill out an online shopping list each month that allows volunteers to provide items that are wanted and useful. Click here to scroll through our most requested items.
Nourish 282 has been operating as a 501(c)(3) charity since January of 2016. Nourish continues to pivot and evolve to meet the needs of the community they serve. This could not be done without the support of local businesses, community members, school communities, churches, and civic organizations working together to ensure that the basic needs of every child within School District 282 are met.
In addition to the Gift Card Program and Food Pantry, Nourish still holds its annual Free Store in October. The Free Store offers head-to-toe winter outerwear for families to come in and choose. Students leave completely outfitted for the cold months.
In partnership with generous local chefs Liza Atkinson of Nosh & Gather, Valerie Fauer of Valerie’s French Kitchen, and Kitchen Coalition/2nd Harvest, Nourish provides meals to 15 - 20 families every week.
Other programs include locally grown summer produce, and a housing assistance program intended to help people who are at risk of, or are experiencing, being unhoused.
Whether it’s providing warm outerwear, weekly meals, grocery gift cards or summer produce, Nourish 282 is ready and looking for ways to help the families in their community and are grateful for the support from so many.
When we help a child, we are shaping the future.
Our Board and Team
Sara McGrath, Julie Pierce, Sue Kalenze, and Sarah Crowson
Meet Our Team
photo credit: loco f/x photography
"I am Eternally, and utterly grateful for this program because it has helped my family out in more than 1 way! I hope that this program is able to raise the money they need in order to continue helping families out just like mine. Thanks from the bottom of my heart."