Peoria Porch Pantry feeds more than 200 during cookout, hopes to address homelessness, food insecurity

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A community cookout in Peoria’s West Bluff is feeding those in need while shining a light on poverty.

Community members held a pop-up grill-out at Peoria’s Porch Pantry on 1122 N. Ellis Street Thursday night. Those serving hot dogs, burgers, chicken breasts, and more said after an hour and a half of starting, they’d already served more than 150 people and wrapped up serving more than 200.

They said in addition to feeding those who may not have access to food on a daily basis, they also wanted to bring awareness to homelessness and food insecurity, both are growing issues in the city.

“Just helping one person at a time that’s all I want,” Simon Boolman, a West Bluff resident, said.

Boolman said he’s recently done a few pop-up lunches in the area, about 30 at a time. He noted the neighborhood’s porch pantry feeds people every day and said he also wanted to contribute while working with the pantry to address a bigger issue.

“I got the idea to try and do more and to try to help out the homeless and less fortunate and try to at least get them a meal in their tummy for a day, and so that’s my main goal,” Boolman said.

Charles Martin, Vice President of the Porch Pantry, said after serving hundreds of burgers, they were going to keep grilling until they ran out of food or until people stopped showing up.

The pantry, which helps those in need with free food, clothing, and furniture, opened toward the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020. It also recently received 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status.

Martin said if anyone wishes, they can donate to the pantry at its physical location, GoFundMe, or using any of the options below.

  • Pay Pal –
  • Venmo – Charles-Martin-297
  • Cash App – PorchPantry2020$

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