Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chicago's largest anti-hunger rally takes place June 25th


With summer in full swing, the 31st Annual Hunger Walk is just around the corner. Here’s what to expect in Jackson Park on the morning of June 25th.

The Hunger Walk is an annual two-mile walk along the lakefront. Proceeds benefit the Food Depository’s partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters throughout Cook County. Funds raised during Hunger Walk support these agencies’ operations throughout the year, ensuring that they can provide nutritious food to children, families, and individuals in need.

For some agencies, the funds raised at Hunger Walk cover all their operating expenses for the entire year. One such agency is featured at the beginning of the short video above, illustrating why a few individuals plan to participate in Hunger Walk. “It’s not only food, but also our equipment for our pantry we’re able to purchase with the funds from Hunger Walk,” says Marva Hines-Brown, who coordinates the food pantry at Covenant United Church of Christ in the southern suburb of South Holland.

Live entertainment from local performers enlivens the Hunger Walk. From the inspirational R&B of fourteen-year-old Lyr!c to the house and dance music of Jameisha Trice and Dana Devine, the morning’s performers will offer a variety of upbeat sounds to kick off the day. Additional performers include T Star and the Evanston School of Rock House Band.

A children’s tent provides activities for the youngest Hunger Walk participants, including face painting. Participants are welcome to continue the fun with barbecues and picnics in the park: a designated grilling area will be available along the course. Sponsor tents will also be present, offering giveaways and information from the Hunger Walk’s premier sponsors: ABC7 Chicago, ConAgra Foods, Griffith Foods, Jewel-Osco, Kraft Heinz Company, and Tyson Foods.


Registration for Hunger Walk opens at 7 a.m., with the walk starting at 8:30 a.m. Join us at Chicago’s largest anti-hunger rally, or make a contribution to support a participating team. Learn more at chicagosfoodbank.org/hungerwalk.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Record high audit score demonstrates a commitment to food safety

The Food Depository's warehouse meets stringent standards for food safety.
Food safety is a priority for the Greater Chicago Food Depository team. As part of this commitment to ensuring that the food we distribute is safe, the Food Depository undergoes a rigorous annual assessment: the Distribution Center Food Safety and Quality Systems Audit, administered by Merieux NutriSciences.

“We strive to be leaders in food safety, excelling beyond the status quo,” says Michael Goss, Manager of Food Safety. While the Food Depository has consistently scored above 98% on this assessment, this year set a new record. The Food Depository achieved a score of 99.1% on the food safety audit, its highest score ever.

This year, the audit requirements were significantly revised, increasing the challenge for the Food Depository team. In a short amount of time, they conducted a hazard analysis, reviewing every process in the warehouse and documenting how they control and eliminate all hazards.  Some of the crucial programs that are used to control hazards include employee training, warehouse best practices, temperature control, and vendor approval procedures.

Preparation for the food safety audit involved a coordinated effort for staff. With over 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, the Food Depository facility contains an ever-changing variety of shelf-stable and fresh food.  Both the facility and documentation are covered in the audit, which comprises a 470-point evaluation. Every element of the operation, from equipment to sanitation to pest control and more, is included in the audit.

According to Michael Goss, the outstanding success on the food safety audit goes beyond a checklist of best practices: it’s part of the culture. “Food safety culture really became the focus,” he says. “There was a lot of ongoing training and support. The entire organization really embraced the culture and it made a difference. Everybody really cares and works as a team.”

Sheila Creghin, Vice President of Operations, agrees that the team’s united effort made the difference: “The audit results represent the dedicated commitment of our great team day in and day out to ensure the food we distribute to our partner agencies in our community is safe for the clients we serve.”

Congratulations to the Food Depository team on ensuring safe and wholesome food for the community!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Food Depository to participate in veteran Stand Down, honors those who served



From June 10-11, the Greater Chicago Food Depository will be participating in the Veteran Stand Down at General Jones Armory. The event provides homeless veterans with food, clothing, shelter, medical services, and other assistance. The veterans will receive a hot meal prepared by Chicago’s Community Kitchens – the Food Depository’s 14-week food service job-training program. The Food Depository will also provide bags of food to take with them as they leave.

The most recent Stand Down in November provided hot meals for 800 veterans and volunteers and distributed over 6,900 pounds of food. Each of the 609 veterans that attended received bags of shelf stable food and fresh produce. The Food Depository expects to serve 750 veterans at this summer’s Stand Down.

The need among veterans in Cook County is significant. Over 16,000 veterans in our community live at or below the poverty line, and 18% of households that turn to the Food Depository’s network for assistance include at least one person who has served or is currently serving in the Armed Forces. In addition to the Stand Downs, the Food Depository operates food pantries at two VA facilities, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. These food pantries distribute food to over 3,000 veterans in need each month. The Food Depository also provides SNAP application assistance to veterans. 

To learn more about the Food Depository’s response to hunger among veterans, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/veterans.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Chicagoland businesses raise more than $82,000 to combat summertime hunger

The Greater Chicago Food Depository’s second annual LunchTime to End Hunger campaign, which ran from May 16-20, raised $82,763 in support of the organization's summer feeding initiatives for children. Thirty-one companies participated as teams in this year’s competition. The top three fundraisers were Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP ($12,575 raised), Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC ($10,400 raised), and Guggenheim Partners ($9,130 raised). 

The Food Depository congratulates the top teams, and thanks each of the businesses that participated in this year’s competition. Every team made a tremendous impact, with an average of $2,500 raised per team. Many businesses found creative ways to fundraise, including bake-offs, internal fundraising competitions, and hosting luncheons. 

The LunchTime to End Hunger campaign encouraged participants to donate what they would normally spend on lunch for a week to the Food Depository. Funds raised will provide the equivalent of more than 276,000 meals for children this summer. This support makes an incredible impact as the Food Depository serves 812,000 clients each year, or 1 in 6 Cook County residents.  

To learn more about the campaign, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/lunch.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Follow Food Depository advocates on the ground in Washington, D.C.



From February 28 - March 1, more than 30 advocates from the Greater Chicago Food Depository and partner agencies will be attending the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. After two days of conference sessions, the advocates will meet with federal lawmakers at Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 1.

There are a number of ways to follow the advocates on their trip:
  • Social media: Be sure to follow the Food Depository on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for short video updates, photos and insights from the conference.
  • Live blog: Watch the live blog for updates from the various conference keynotes, including remarks by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Kathryn Edin, co-author of "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America" and White House Adviser Cecilia Munoz.
  • Meeting the Advocates Videos: Before the trip, we highlighted three advocates, asking what motivates them to lift their voices in Washington. Watch the videos and learn more.
To find out about the Food Depository's advocacy efforts and to get involved, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy.




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

1 City, 1 Food Drive collects more than 1.3 million meals

In November, Food Depository volunteers collected 17,544 lbs. of food in one morning at Union Station.
Hunger requires a community response. In order for us to make an impact, we must all work together toward a common goal. During the 2015 holidays, our generous neighbors provided that response.

In only November and December, the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s 1 City, 1 Food Drive campaign collected 475,000 pounds of food and $305,000 – the equivalent of more than 1.3 million meals for hungry individuals in our community.

This year’s campaign included 500 food drives, and Chicagoans didn’t miss an opportunity to donate. Commuters at Union, Millennium and Ogilvie stations donated thousands of pounds of shelf-stable food. This year’s top food drives were run by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Chicago, Chicago Bulls, City of Chicago and InterPark.

The top virtual food drives were organized by Morningstar, the ChiTech start-up community and SmithBucklin.

Big or small, corporate or individual, every food drive and every can of food donated during the holidays makes a difference as the Food Depository continues responding to an elevated level of need. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s 1 City, 1 Food Drive effort a success!

To learn more or start a food drive, visit chicagosfoodbank.org/fooddrive

Monday, February 8, 2016

Food Depository partners with rooftop greenhouse to raise awareness, fight hunger

Gotham Greens' leafy greens are sold at retailers throughout the Chicago area and are co-branded with the Food Depository's logo.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository has joined Gotham Greens – a global pioneer in the field of urban agriculture and leading regional produce company– to raise awareness of the fight against hunger in our community. The Brooklyn based company recently opened its 4th greenhouse facility here in Chicago, marking the company’s first expansion outside of New York.

Gotham Greens’ premium quality produce is grown in the company’s 75,000 square foot rooftop greenhouse, located in the historic Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The greenhouse is powered by 100% renewable energy, employs over 50 local workers and will produce nearly 10 million annual crops. This year-round, pesticide free produce is sold to local retailers and restaurants providing Chicagoans with premium quality, hyper-local produce that often hits store shelves and restaurant plates the very same day it’s been harvested, 365 days a year.

As part of the new partnership, all of Gotham Greens’ packaged salads have been co-branded with the Food Depository’s logo, helping raises awareness for hunger while highlighting the need for fresh produce for everyone in our community. Gotham Greens also regularly donates their fresh, locally-grown produce to the Food Depository, and has committed to donating at least 6,000 packages of product this year.

"An important part of the fight against hunger is raising awareness,” said Kate Maehr, Food Depository executive director and CEO. “Our partnership with Gotham Greens is an innovative way to do just that.”

“Gotham Greens is especially proud to contribute to the important work being done in areas of food security by valued partners like the Food Depository,” said Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens CEO.

Check out a story on Fox 32 featuring the new Gotham Greens facility and the company's partnership with the Food Depository.