The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 135,000 meals every day. The Food Depository’s programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger.
Programs and services of the Greater Chicago Food Depository include:
Job Training: Since its inception in 1998, Chicago’s Community Kitchens has been providing foodservice job training to unemployed and underemployed adults in Cook County who have a passion for “life in the kitchen” and a will to achieve entry-level employment in the foodservice industry.
Children: The Food Depository distributes approximately 3,000 meals each day to more than 60 after-school and summer programs in Cook County.
Nourish for Knowledge is the local initiative of Feeding America’s Backpack Program. The program provides take-home bags of nutritious, ready-to-eat, shelf-stable food to schoolchildren in low-income neighborhoods. Nourish for Knowledge ensures that children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals at school have the nutritious food they need over the weekend.
SNAP outreach: The SNAP Outreach Program aims to increase the number of eligible Cook County residents receiving SNAP benefits.
Elderly: The Food Depository began delivering boxes of nonperishable food to Chicago Housing Authority and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development residences in Chicago in 2007. Ingredients for Independence helps ease tight grocery budgets and increase the ability of older adults to cook and eat meals independently in their own homes. As of Spring 2010, nearly 4,000 boxes are delivered to more than 50 housing sites each month.
Training: In 2003, the Greater Chicago Food Depository piloted Pantry University to give our member agencies an outlet for specialized education and support. Client workshops and classes range from food safety and sanitation, nutrition, fundraising, grant writing, creating and maintaining budgets to operational best practices. All classes are taught by Food Depository staff, agency representatives and skilled practitioners who are knowledgeable in their topic areas.
Mobile Pantry: The Mobile Pantry program, launched in 2007, distributes nonperishable food and perishable food to six sites each month. The Mobile Pantry brings food to communities that have a high concentration of poverty but relatively low levels of Food Depository food assistance, as identified by the 2006 Cook County Unmet Need Study. The program aims to serve working people by delivering food on nights and weekends—when food assistance typically is not available. The Food Rescue program retrieves from more than 140 retail grocer locations throughout Cook County perishable, nonperishable and frozen foods that have reached their sell-by dates.