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M.O.R.E. HomeAbout Us > History of M.O.R.E.


In 1978 the government released butter and cheese to be given to low-income families. Because Marengo had no social services, it was sent to the local police department and given out at City Hall. At the time, unemployment was 18% to 20%. Then it was decided that Rev. Ralph Smith of the Marengo United Methodist Church and Rev. Andrew Lowry of the First Presbyterian Church would take care of this. Other foods were added to the cheese and butter. Food was donated by the people of the churches and others in the Marengo community. The food was stored in the basement of City Hall and given out one week a month. Emergencies were handled by the police department on a 24-hourly basis.

The Inter-Church Council was formed in 1984. It was decided that they would administer this project. Rules and guidelines were drawn up by the representatives from all the churches in Marengo and Union. Many people helped put the food pantry together. Dick and Gaye Anderson, along with attorney Jay Filler (who donated his time) wrote the charter and made the Inter-Church Council a legal corporation. When the pantry officially opened as a 501(c)3, they began purchasing food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank (formerly Bethlehem Center). Food is free or purchased here at great discounts. Donations are also made by supermarkets, local businesses, and the community. When the Loaves and Fishes later separated from the Inter-Church Council in 2000, Jay Filler again donated his time to complete the legal work for Marengo area OutReach Enterprises, Inc. (M.O.R.E.).

Old Food PantryThe City Hall basement was no longer available so the food pantry was moved to an available building at the water treatment plant on north Route 23. When that building was no longer available, Covenant Baptist Church offered the use of a garage in the back of their church. This also became unavailable and the pantry moved to 837 W. Grant Hwy. in 2001.

Nell Gron served as director of the Food Pantry from 1980 through 1991. She was followed by Cass Gilbert. By mid 1992 Jan Perkins joined Cass as her co-director. Cass left in 2002. Janice Perkins then became sole director.

The founding board members of M.O.R.E. in the year 2000 were Bob Botts (President), Charlie Petrauskis (Vice-President), Christine Botts (Secretary), Rev. Dan Hinckley (Treasurer), Sandy Butenschoen, Rev. Carol Currier-Frighetto, Dr. Tom Dujmovich, Jay Filler, Janice Perkins, Myra Pleva, Kathy Trickett, and Tess Woyach. Cass Gilbert and Janice Perkins were co-directors.

The Board purchased land at 829 Greenlee Street in December of 2005 and made plans to build their 5,000 square foot M.O.R.E. Center. The doors opened to the public on August 8, 2007 with all programs operating simultaneously.

Since opening, the M.O.R.E. Center has expanded programs to include not only food, but also financial assistance, including Salvation Army. A new program called 'Little Portion' provides small household items and clothing (see Programs page). M.O.R.E. has also become an information provider to people needing help but do not know where to begin. M.O.R..E. is now the home to the Marengo Senior Citizens Club. As of September 18, 2011, the mortgage debt was PAID IN FULL.

On the morning of June 11, 2017, a massive home explosion shook a Marengo neighborhood which destroyed ten homes and damaged dozens more. M.O.R.E. was called upon by the city to coordinate the cash donations and clothing and household items pouring in from the community. M.O.R.E. also coordinated the distribution of items and cash to all those affected. Our volunteers stepped forward over the next two months to see the mission through, while still keeping our doors open to our regular operations. M.O.R.E. was recognized by the city and county for the fine job done.

The pandemic of 2020 brought great challenges. For the first few months, clients were not allowed in the building. Food was brought to the door where clients could receive it. Masks and other necessary precautionary procedures were closely followed. As vaccinations became available, the strain was lessened on our volunteers. All agree that this was a very dark time.

Jan Perkins retired as Food Pantry Director in 2016 and Co-Directors Chris Botts and Charlie Petrauskis stepped up. After Charlie retired in 2023, Chris Botts is currently the M.O.R.E. Food Pantry director.

[Written in large part by Fran Wright, First Presbyterian Church, June 2005.]