Every day, 150 to 200 families walk through the doors of the St. Joseph Food Program, a mission to feed the hungry of the Fox River Valley. The Food Program is a nonprofit non-denominational Christian organization. The program is entirely local and receives no national funding-existing only on volunteers support and donations.
Ten years ago, the late Joe Cheslock started a club called the "Hi-Five Club." Its aim was to raise money for necessities that St. Joe's Food Pantry was short on. The primary idea was for people to donate $5 a month or whatever they could afford. It was not an obligation, just a good deed that donors felt the need to fulfill.
Now, 10 years later, Teresa Talens, a high school student, started a program called "Bag-Up Hunger," branched off from the "Hi-Five Club." It is a way to bridge the Xavier community with the rest of the Fox Valley. The initial idea was that every month, each Xavier student would donate one bag of food. Anyone who wants to participate can and each participating student signs a commitment sheet that determines much they will be expected to contribute.
Every month, lunch-sized paper bags are distributed during the homeroom period to students who signed up for the program. There is a theme every month, based on items the pantry is short on, such as "Canned Soup Month," or "Macaroni and Cheese Month." After a week, the bags are collected in the office during the morning. Later in the day, one of the volunteers from the St. Joseph Food Program drives to Xavier, picks up the bags and drives the bags back to the pantry, where they are sorted and put on the shelves.
Currently, there are 80 students participating in the program.