Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hunger Walk: Step up your fundraising

 The 27th Annual Hunger Walk is less than four weeks away!
Saturday, June 23 at Soldier Field

If you haven't already -- sign up today!

Whether you are raising funds as part of an agency or as an individual, gearing up for this year's Hunger Walk can be fun and fulfilling at the same time.  Try some of the tips below to increase your donations and to get you closer to your fundraising goal!

1.  Download this poster and hang it up in your home, office, community center, cafe and laundromat. (en espaƱol)  

2. Use your participant center on the Hunger Walk website to update your profile and email your family and friends with our ready-made messages.

3.  Host a bake sale at your place of worship, school or on your block.

4.  Are you a student?  Submit information about the Hunger Walk to your school's publication and website.

5.  Ask your place of worship to include Hunger Walk information in their weekly bulletin.  This is also a great way to recruit team members!

Do it for Chicago!  See you on the start line Saturday, June 23 at Soldier Field.  For more information go to

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hunger doesn't get the day off

This Memorial Day, honor all those who have served by supporting those who are struggling.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 18,000 veterans in Cook County are living below the poverty level. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reports 10 percent of people homeless in Chicago are veterans.

Make a donation today and help the Greater Chicago Food Depository serve veterans.

Summit identifies ways to feed the future

The role of nutrition in the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and a child's second birthday is often overlooked when considering responses to hunger. The scientific evidence shows that proper nutrition during these 1,000 days influences a person into adulthood. Further, food access is an issue for young children throughout the world and in the United States--there is an abundance of food worldwide yet food is scarce for 1 billion people.

Those were some of the themes discussed at 1,000 Days to Change the Future: Making Malnutrition History on Monday, May 21, at the Chicago History Museum. The Greater Chicago Food Depository teamed up with the 1,000 Days partnership and other local, national and international organizations on the summit. Speakers included: Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO, Greater Chicago Food Depository; Sen. Dick Durbin; Ertharin Cousin, executive director, U.N. World Food Programme; Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Vicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America; and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, assistant secretary general for public diplomacy, NATO. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recorded a message to event attendees (above).

The 1,000 Days partnership, founded by the U.S. State Department in 2010, promotes targeted action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers in the 1,000 days between a woman's pregnancy and a child's second birthday.

ABC 7 featured the Food Depository's efforts to address the needs of young children in a piece that aired yesterday. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Business as usual during NATO Summit

Hundreds of global leaders and thousands of journalists are headed to the City of Chicago for the 2012 NATO Summit, the first time the global gathering has been hosted in a U.S. city other than Washington D.C.   Traffic will soon be moving slowly around downtown but here at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, it's business as usual.
On Friday alone, the Food Depository expects to distribute 126,649 pounds of food to feed hungry people in Cook County.  Forty-six agencies (pantries, soup kitchens and shelters) will pick up produce and nonperishable food from our warehouse. Our SNAP Outreach teams will be out in the community helping individuals sign up for federal food assistance.  Hunger Walk organizers will be rallying fundraising teams for the 27th Annual Hunger Walk this June 23.  The students at Chicago's Community Kitchens will be preparing delicious meals for children in low-income neighborhoods.   Dozens of volunteers will brave the NATO traffic to sort donated food items and pack boxes for older adults and struggling families.
As the city prepares to take the world stage as host of the NATO Summit,  the Food Depository will continue to play a leading role in providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in Cook County.

You can help!  Go to and sign up to walk in this year's 27th Annual Hunger Walk, on June 23 at Soldier Field.  Walk and raise funds to help more than 807,000 men, women and children in Cook County who don't know where their next meal is coming from.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The faces of older adult food insecurity

Tomorrah Davis picking out produce at the Vivian Carter Apartments.
You don't have to go far to find Cook County older adults concerned where their next meal will come from.

“If it wasn’t for the Link card I don’t know what I would do because I need the food,” said Tomorrah Davis.  The 60-year old former seamstress is one of many residents of Vivian Carter Apartments, a senior housing complex on Chicago's South Side, who frequent a free market with food provided by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.   Tomorrah uses SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits to purchase a lot of her food using a Link card, similar to ATM or bank cards.

“You just see the lines of people lining up at the markets and food giveaways.  People are hungry.  Everybody is insecure,” she said.  
An older adult picking out non-perishable food at a distribution market.
A new study released today, commissioned by the Food Depository, shows that Tomorrah is not alone.  Eighty-nine percent of federal food assistance for low-income adults in Chicago and 92 percent in suburban Cook County comes from SNAP.

Simply put, without SNAP benefits more than 180,000 low-income Cook County seniors would find it even more challenging to access food - a possibility as Congress considers cutting SNAP funding by $4.2 billion in the Senate's Farm Bill and by $33 billion in the House's proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.  Take action now:
Mary Amos is a market regular.
“At 87 years old I never thought I would make it this long,” said Mary Amos, who grew up in Mississippi and moved to Chicago with her husband around 60 years ago.  When he died in 1991, she said she started to struggle, so she signed up for SNAP benefits.

“I get food stamps.  Sixteen dollars is all they give me.  Doesn’t get much today,” she said.  “Forty years ago that would get you a lot but not today.  When that runs out I get Meals on Wheels and come to the [older adult] market.”

Stomach issues force Mary to eat a strict diet however the foods she needs aren't always affordable.

“Sometimes I eat what I shouldn’t because it is all I have and it upsets my stomach,” she said, "but sometimes when you got to eat, you got to eat.”
Louis Bulliner enjoys the fresh produce at the senior markets.
“It’s hard to understand the politicians,” said 72 year-old Louis Bulliner.
Born and raised in Chicago, Louis worked for the Chicago Park District and the Somerset House nursing home before it closed.  Since then he has had odd jobs but said it is hard to find work.  He depends on Social Security and SNAP to get by.  “It is not easy being old these days.  You have to stay in a prayerful mood,” he said.  “Being an older person is hard.” 

For more information about the Older Adult Nutrition Analysis Study and other food insecurity studies, go to the Research and Studies page at

Friday, May 11, 2012

GE Community Day

200+ GE employees volunterring at the Food Depository

"We are here to do what we do best, give back with our hands, our hearts and our wallets," said Linda Fiore, Managing Director for Chicago Business Development for General Electric, as she kicked off the company's 2012 GE Community Day at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

For the past six years, on a Friday in May, hundreds of GE employees have spent the day volunteering at the Food Depository, making GE Day the largest annual volunteer day for the facility.  This year more than 200 GE employees assembled food boxes, sorted donated items and repacked pasta for struggling Chicago families.

GE employees
"Given today's economic environment we know that our work today will mean even more than it has in past years," said Linda.  "Across Cook County, nearly 1 in 6 people struggle to access food or are unsure of their next meal.  That is why we are here today."

Joining GE staff in the festivities were Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Mike Zalewski, 23rd Ward.
Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr (left) accepting $100,000 donation.
 GE has supported the Food Depository since 1994, providing more than $550,000 in financial support.  This year, they presented the Food Depository with a check for $100,000.

"When you come here and you make sure that our hungry neighbors, the 807,000 men, women and children who need food, have it," said Kate Maehr, during the kick-off ceremony.  "We are so grateful for you."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking at 2012 GE Community Day
 "The two things that matter most to me are creating jobs and creating a sense of community, and both of those are happening here today," said Mayor Emanuel.  "I remember when Kate [Maehr] opened the doors here and it was one big empty shell.  Now what happens in here is not just moving food, it's building a sense of community."  The Mayor went on to say, "I am proud to be here and join GE in their commitment to a better city and to creating jobs and economic opportunities."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chicago is under "Canstruction"

Copyright 2012 Leigh Loftus |
Walk into the first floor lobby of the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago and you will find Angry Birds, a giant Mr. Peanut, and an enormous eggplant (to name a few) - all entirely made out of canned goods.

The canned creations are part of the Sixth Annual Canstruction® and A-can-emy Awards benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository, presented by Whole Foods Market.  Last year, the event raised 96,000 pounds of canned food for Cook County families in need, making it the number one, single-day canned food drive for the Food Depository.

Copyright 2012 Leigh Loftus |
Last week, teams of local architects, engineers and construction companies worked through the night building the massive "can-structures," which will be on display, free to the public, May 3-31 at the Merchandise Mart.

On May 10, 2012, the A-can-emy Awards will be held at Merchandise Mart from 5-8:30 p.m.  The gala reception includes cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, a preview of the structures and an award ceremony hosted by NBC Chicago reporter Natalie Martinez.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

Copyright 2012 Leigh Loftus |