Thursday, April 30, 2015

Regular Tyson chicken donation provides critical source of protein

Protein is a core item that the Greater Chicago Food Depository offers to its member agencies. But, because of increasing prices, it is one of the more difficult items for the Food Depository to obtain. However, a generous recurring donation from Tyson Foods, Inc. has made chicken more available to our network that serves hungry men, women and children in our community.

Since December 2012, Tyson has donated more than 682,000 pounds of chicken leg quarters to the Food Depository. The chicken, which is distributed at children’s programs in addition to pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, is an important part of the Food Depository’s response to hunger.

“For the 1 in 6 people in Cook County turning to the Food Depository’s network each year, chicken is often a luxury that families cannot afford,” said Gerry Maguire, Food Depository vice president of supply chain. “Tyson’s donations ensure that food insecure families will have access to more high-quality protein throughout our community.”

“Tyson is extremely proud of the continued impact our donations make for struggling households served by the Greater Chicago Food Depository,” said Greg Lancelot, VP Sales and Marketing Tyson Foods McDonald’s Business Unit. “As a food company, we believe that nobody should go hungry and that is why we are committed to the fight against hunger in our communities.”

Since the donations began, more than 100 member agencies have received the chicken at no cost. One such agency, a women’s shelter Humboldt Park, recently received eight cases of the product.

“We have about 25 women at the shelter at any given time,” said Ethel Johnson, a volunteer at Leslie’s Place. “Chicken is a nutritious product and our residents really enjoy it.”

Leslie’s Place serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to residents every day, so a variety of protein is important.

“We use the chicken in meals at least once a day,” Ethel said. “We really need it.”

In addition to recurring chicken donations, Tyson generously contributed $100,000 to the Food Depository’s hunger relief initiatives this year and is a Premier Sponsor of the 30th Annual Hunger Walk on Saturday, June 20.
For more information about food industry donations, visit

Friday, April 10, 2015

The 1 in 5: Meeting the need year-round

A child receives lunch at Casa Juan Diego in Pilsen.
For the Kids Cafe at Casa Juan Diego in Pilsen, there is no spring break.

Even when Chicago Public Schools close for a week in April, the Greater Chicago Food Depository program stays open. It’s indicative of the need among children in the community.

“We want to make sure that children have a meal and a place to go,” said Amanda Yepez, the Kids Cafe coordinator. “We know there’s a need here. Many of these families are struggling to survive.”

During the school year, the Kids Cafe serves meals to approximately 50 children each day. Many of the children in Pilsen come from families in which both parents work, but healthy food is still difficult to afford.

“We’re able to provide these children with a healthy, well-balanced meal,” Amanda said. “Families are having trouble paying bills and rent and everything and can’t afford that for their children.”

Casa Juan Diego doesn’t just stay open during spring break. When school ends in June, they become a summer meal site.

“I’d say the need is almost greater during the summer,” said Ricardo Marines, Casa Juan Diego’s assistant director.

This summer, Ricardo expects to serve nearly 100 children per day at the Kids Cafe.

“Most of the time, kids come to our center during the summer without having breakfast or lunch,” he said.

Casa Juan Diego is just one of many children’s meal sites sponsored by the Food Depository during the summer. Programs like Kids Cafes and the Lunch Bus, which delivers meals to children at 21 sites per day, help bridge the gap for children who were receiving free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school during the year but no longer have access to those meals.

For Ricardo, the philosophy is simple.

“Whether it’s winter, spring or summer, we want to make sure we have a place – and a meal – for these children.”