Oliver: Discount food-buying club gets new life in county

For Jerry Macey of McHenry, feeding people isn’t just a noble pastime, it’s a passion.

Readers might remember Macey as the site coordinator of the area’s SHARE food program that was in operation for almost a year.

Families were able to buy food items for 30 percent to 50 percent less than in supermarkets.

Unfortunately, SHARE, which was a food-buying club based in Wisconsin, ceased operations in May because of increased fuel and product costs.

That left Macey in a bind. McHenry County had SHARE’s fastest-growing site and the second-largest one in Illinois. Locally, SHARE served about 60 families.

“People were telling us, ‘You can’t do that,’” Macey said of the response to SHARE’s demise.

Macey vowed to find another low-cost option for area families.

The endeavor proved a bit harder than anyone expected.

Macey found a partner in Bob Dorn, who is the director of The Pointe Outreach Center in Crystal Lake.

“Bob has the same passion for feeding people that I do,” Macey said.

Still, setting up a food-buying club from scratch is more involved than simply securing food at a discount. A number of computer issues arose that were beyond the grasp of Macey, whose background is in sales.

“Food was one of the easier things to find,” Macey said.

However, not just any supplier would do. Macey insisted that the program have nutritious food as well as a number of choices.

Ultimately, Macey and Dorn settled on Mid America Foods, a national discount grocery ministry that partners with churches and organizations to operate like a faith-based food cooperative.

Here in McHenry County, Loaves & Fishes Discount Food Ministry was born.

County residents will have access to restaurant-style food with a number of choices each month. They also will see a minimum of 20 percent to 35 percent in savings, Macey said.

The program is open to everyone, and there are no eligibility requirements or income limits.

Mid America Foods, which has been around for more than 50 years, provides the logistics, food and materials, and Loaves & Fishes provides volunteers and a drop-off location.

Loaves & Fishes will begin taking orders Oct. 5 for delivery Oct. 27.

Orders can be placed online at, by phone at 855-832-7238 or in person.

In-person orders will be taken from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Senior Services, 3519 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg; from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at Evangelical Free Church of McHenry, 2614 Ringwood Road, McHenry; and from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at The Pointe Outreach Center, 5650 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake.

Credit and debit cards, cash and checks will be accepted. Pickup will be from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Oct. 27 at Evangelical Free Church of McHenry.

If you’d like more information or want to volunteer, call Macey at 815-690-2606 or Dorn at 815-575-4745.

“There is a need – a very serious need for food relief in this county,” Macey said.

Loaves & Fishes Discount Food Ministry aims to fill that need.

And it’s good to see Macey back in business.

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at

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