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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Starting fresh

Renee Phillips visits the Alvernia Food Pantry in Elmwood Park once a month.
Renee Phillips needed a change.

In May, she moved from Florida to Illinois, after being released from prison. She wanted to start over and found a job as a waitress, but was laid off soon after. So, she turned to the Alvernia Food Pantry in Elmwood Park.

“I was homeless for a while, but Alvernia has been amazing. I would be starving if it weren’t for this place,” she said.

Renee received counseling through St. Celestine Church, which manages the pantry. Her future is looking brighter. She found an apartment and is now working full-time in retail.

While she’s slowly building up savings, she still needs the pantry for the essentials.

“I get bread, meat, eggs and vegetables here,” she said. “That’s what keeps me eating.”

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