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Kendall Food Pantry Turns Corner After Difficult Year

Jan 11, 2017 07:41PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Volunteers work to sort and organize donations at the Kendall County Community Food Pantry. (Photo courtesy of the KCCFP Facebook page)

It's been a pretty tough year for the Kendall County Community Food Pantry. 

From the news of the alleged theft of funds by its former executive director to her subsequent death just a few weeks later, you might expect a real downturn in the longtime local nonprofit's activities. But that's not the case, according to its new leadership.

“It’s almost a miracle”, said Tandy Pinter, former warehouse supervisor and now Board Member of the new Pantry.  “The search warrants, missing money, and shocking drug overdose of our trusted leader in June should have collapsed the operation.  Instead, our 50+ volunteers kept their heads in the game, showed up every week, and persevered through their grief to guarantee the mission was fulfilled."

The Kendall County Food Pantry began a new chapter in its history in August when a new board was seated and new leadership named. The organization even opted for a new name — the Kendall County Community Food Pantry. 

A summer of turmoil for the the KCCFP began in June when news broke that longtime executive director Maria Spaeth was under investigation for allegedly stealing from the organization. Spaeth was found dead just weeks later of what the coroner ruled drug intoxication. 

After restructuring in the month following Spaeth's death, the newly formed organization purchased the assets and operations of the troubled Kendall County Food Pantry. 

“When our group stepped up and offered to help in early July, we were sitting with a negative bank balance, overdue bills, finances with no meaningful oversight, and a number of unusual and unexplained financial transactions and debts," said Treasurer Larry Nelson. "Here we are in January, with a balance sheet in the black, all our bills paid and some money in the bank.  It really speaks of the trust and commitment of this community." 

As operations continue to grow, Board Chairman Greg Witek said he looks forward to a new era of transparency at the KCCFP, and an annual report will be made available to the public within the next 90 days. 

"One of the most rewarding aspects of this report will be the community’s ongoing support," Witek said. "Generous donations of food, volunteer time, and dollars, continued to send a clear message.  This community wants its most needy to be cared for."
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