This past October, the Downers Grove Public Library opened The Cupboard in its lobby café, offering food items, toiletries, and information finders in an effort to support frequent visitors who are experiencing housing and food shortages. The Cupboard is self-serve and the resources are provided to help those in need who may struggle with not knowing what to ask for, or feel too embarrassed to ask for what they need.
In partnership with The West Suburban Community Pantry, The Cupboard serves two main purposes: to provide patrons with resource aids that highlight local, social service agencies that assist with transportation, food, mental health, housing, and employment needs; and to address immediate needs by supplying individuals with nonperishable food items and toiletries. All items are complimentary for any person in need.
The Cupboard is stocked every morning before the library opens. Over the past month, hundreds of items have been given away, including: toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, socks, feminine hygiene products, nutrition bars, crackers, pretzels, fruit cups, and other nonperishable food items. Since its opening, many additional opportunities have grown from existing partnerships, and even new connections have been made with other social service agencies.
So far, staff have received a lot of positive feedback from patrons who rely on The Cupboard to help bridge the gap between meals at the shelters and schools. Libraries are known to exist for nourishing the mind, but they can also exist to nourish the body as well.