With the holidays not that far off, the folks over at the Howard Mohr Community Center’s food pantry are hoping residents will get into the spirit of giving a little earlier this season. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

For some, the holidays are a time to look forward to. But for those who are struggling economically as well as those who work to meet that population’s needs, the holidays can be an extremely stressful time.

According to Karen Dylewksi, director of the Community Center and head of the food pantry, the number of individuals and families struggling to make ends meet surges this time of year. Add that to the number of people who are already having a hard time because of the poor economy, and it’s easy to see why the food pantry is having difficulty keeping its shelves stocked.

The food pantry relies entirely on food and monetary donations and, lately, it just cannot keep pace with requests from needy residents. Donations are down: companies and organizations are not giving like they used to, and the economy has eaten away at the middle class, leaving it with very little disposable income to give to charity. 

Rose Krough, a Forest Parker who volunteers for the food pantry, really put things in perspective during a recent conversation when she said that there’s always someone who’s worse off.

“People are unaware that there are people in our community who are in need of food,” she said.

This struck a nerve with us. She was addressing something much bigger: this basic need is a fundamental right of life, not a privilege.

Many Forest Parkers don’t have what they did during boom times, but most can spare a can or two of non-perishable food. That’s why we’re asking everybody who can to step up and do their part. You’re needed now, more than ever.  

Wellness policy should mean lower costs

Since the village received the $145,000 Model Communities Grant back in February, it has taken steps to implement a comprehensive strategy to make Forest Park a healthier place for everyone.

Thus far, it’s done quite a bit. We’ve weighed in, positively, about most of these things. But now that a Worksite Wellness Policy has been created, we’d like to see our elected officials and village employees take advantage of this. 

It’s up to them to be healthy, and we hope they will be, if for no other reason than to keep health insurance costs down in the future.

Before he voted on this, Commissioner Tom Mannix asked if it would affect health care costs. A great question, and one that wasn’t answered at the time, nor later, by the mayor.

One thing’s for certain, though, health care costs will be lower in the future if employees are eating better, are physically active, and aren’t smoking.

Let’s get in shape, folks.