Hauser Junior High student Colin Cimino leads a group up the steps of the Riverside Township Hall to deliver items to the township’s food pantry. (Provided)

The Hauser Jr. High Food Drive is starting its second half-century this year. Last year’s 50th anniversary food drive, which kicked off at the beginning of March with a big assembly and TV coverage, was cut short due to the pandemic but still managed to collect 14,130 cans of food and raise $12,140.

This year the food drive is getting a boost from a donation of $6,918 from the proceeds of the sale of Christ Presbyterian Church to the village of North Riverside last year. That and other money raised during the fool drive will be used to purchase enough macaroni and cheese to prepare at least 50,000 meals that will be donated to local food pantries as part of the Feed Our Community Day.

Lisa Swicionis, a co-chairwoman of the food drive, is a former member of Christ Presbyterian Church and was instrumental in starting the annual Feed Our Community Day event in 2012 as a project of that congregation and the Covenant of Churches. The Feed Our Community Day became part of the Hauser Food Drive in 2018. 

The donation from Christ Presbyterian was one of the last acts of the church, which disbanded at the end of 2017 and it is of special significance to Swicionis and other former Christ Presbyterian Church members. 

“As the congregation of that church we wanted our legacy to continue with donations to missions that were important to us and Feed Our Community Day was one of them,” Swicionis said. “Even though the church doesn’t exist anymore, this cause lives on through the Hauser Food Drive.” 

This year, because of the pandemic, there will be no single Feed Our Community Day when volunteers gather to assemble the macaroni and cheese meals on a Saturday. Instead, throughout April, Hauser students will assemble the meals during their physical education classes. The bright side of this is that all Hauser students will have the chance to participate in the food drive this year, Swicionis said.

Those wishing to donate money to the food drive can do so by clicking here.

Those who wish to donate non-perishable food items can drop off items at Hauser Jr. High School, 65 Woodside Road in Riverside, throughout April or call the school at 708-447-3896 to arrange for volunteers to pick up canned food from your front porch.