During National Superheroes Month, we celebrate our staff! Meet Sue Dever, Emergency Services Coordinator. Sue started out as a volunteer at BEDS back in 2014, when she and her teenage son had signed up to work an emergency overnight shelter shift. She became more and more involved as a volunteer and eventually joined the BEDS staff in early 2020.
Each week, Sue helps to coordinate the assembly and delivery of food boxes, packaged meals and lunches to our housed and sheltered clients. Sue and her team of Food Rescue volunteers work to create nutritious, healthy meals with the donations BEDS receives so food boxes and meals include a mix of fresh produce, healthy cuts of meat and shelf-stable items.
"My job is to get the food to the people," Sue said.
On Mondays and every other Thursday, Sue and staff pick up produce, meat and other food donations from Trader Joe's. BEDS also receives food from restaurants and local organizations. Chick-fil-A in Crestwood donates about 50 to 70 pounds of food three times per week and a local Olive Garden donates about 20 individual meals each week. The Match a Meal program partnership between Tischler Finer Foods and the Brookfield Elks Club allows BEDS to help fill in the gaps. The donations round out and balance the food deliveries BEDS clients receive.
"Everybody has been so generous," she said.
Before creating meals and food boxes, Sue and her team of volunteers take stock of the donated food and then work to coordinate items so clients receive food items that together can be turned into meals. Sue tries to make sure each food box or packaged meal donation has enough food to make substantial meals. She often reaches out to clients to find out if they have special dietary needs or requests and does her best to accommodate those. Food boxes are delivered to clients every Tuesday and every other Thursday, while lunches are delivered to clients five days a week.
BEDS was recently awarded a grant from the Illinois Public Health Institute to ensure our permanent and transitional housing clients have healthy food and beverage options so Sue and Janie Cundiff, housing case aide, will be working to make sure food boxes contain healthy items with nutritious recipes clients can prepare as meals.
"I do like to know that we are providing these healthy options," Sue said. "I'm really excited about incorporating that into our Food Rescue program."
If you would like to help with the Food Rescue volunteer team, contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.