Hunger Heroes Become Literacy Heroes in Partnership with the Foundation

Hunger heroes at Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry and the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry have become literacy heroes, serving up books and literacy activities along with the food they distribute every month.

The two food distributors have teamed up with the Aurora Public Library Foundation to provide materials to Aurora’s most vulnerable populations during the Covid 19 pandemic.

“During this time of social distancing, when library services are limited and the Bookmobile cannot travel to meet the needs of kids and adults, this partnership with the food pantries is a way to bridge the gap,” said Laura Stoney, manager of the APL Foundation.

Becky Dunnigan, community outreach coordinator for the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, has been serving the Aurora area for nearly 2 years. Together with a staff of 9 employees and a volunteer base of 20-30 people daily, they work to include the new books and literacy materials provided by the APL Foundation along with the food they serve.

A Great Collaboration

“I am glad the Foundation contacted us to start this collaboration.  I think it is wonderful for us and for the families we serve.  I think it pulls the families in more.  This connects the families to the library and to us,” Dunnigan said.

In July, the AAIFP provided over 1100 lit kits to kids. The month prior, the distributed the same number of dual-language books to families in Aurora.

Dunnigan said the program has been well received and has had a positive impact on the families, many of whom have been home due to Covid 19 shut-downs or have had their hours reduced and struggle to put food on the table each week.

“This is a tough time for families coming through the pantry.  Some need that extra boost of getting a little something special along with the food.  They can look in the bag and get something to do with their kids that came from the library.  Rather than just having food placed in their cars, now there is a connection.  I think the families need that connection.  I think that’s all it takes to get someone’s spirits up,” Dunnigan said.

Diane Renner is the executive director of the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry.  She said the books and materials provided by the Foundation have been appreciated and are a great way for kids to stay focused on reading and creativity during this difficult time.

Dual Language Books Serve Adults and Kids

The first book the Foundation provided was a dual language book titled, Lola Plants a Garden.  Renner said her team distributed the book from the East Aurora High School pantry location.

“It was a wonderful book for every family to receive because it can be read in both languages. The parents have said reading it in both English and Spanish has helped them learn and practice their English as well,” Renner said.

Renner said the MWFP has continued its book distribution and is working with the local schools to include recipe books and magazines for their guests as well.

Anyone who would like to help support Aurora’s under-served populations by becoming a Literacy Hero can connect with the program via the web at and tap the Be a Literacy Sponsor link.