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Amazon donates $10K; associates assist at community food bank

Associates shared expertise to help food bank staff

An Amazon employee sorts through cans of green beans Tuesday at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Joliet.[]

A dozen Amazon employees gathered Tuesday morning at the 18,000-square-foot Northern Illinois Food Bank South Suburban Center, located at 171 S. Larkin Ave. in Joliet, to present a $10,000 check and volunteer alongside food bank staff members.

While sorting, cleaning and inspecting cans of green beans, Amazon associates shared their industry knowledge with NIFB, including how to use fewer resources to accomplish more – maximizing operations.

“Amazon has a greater depth of expertise around these things, and we can take a very, very complex process and make it very simple for our associates to connect with,” said Govind Singh, a site leader for Amazon.

The South Suburban Center opened May 4, but Singh said Amazon’s partnership with NIFB began long before. Since 2016, Amazon has donated about 2 million pounds of food to the organization.

“We are picking up from their location a total of five days a week, and we’re getting really, really beautiful produce, we’re getting dairy, we’re getting shelf stable foods,” said Julie Yurko, president and CEO of NIFB.

Yurko called Amazon’s contribution of food, money and expertise “the trifecta of fabulous.”

“We’re a nonprofit. They’re Amazon,” Yurko said. “For them to share their expertise – their skill set – with our team here right at the beginning, so that we can come out of the gate strong and fast and efficient, is just awesome.”

Megan Caldwell, an Amazon associate who volunteered, had a personal reason for giving her time.

“Food pantries have helped me and my family growing up, so it would be nice just to return the favor,” she said. “Me and a couple girls are already planning on coming back.”