Friday, October 7, 2016

Food banks unite to recover from historic floods

Food Depository warehouse worker Shane Lanning serves hot meals in Baton Rouge to people affected by flooding.
In August, historic flooding hit Louisiana. The state endured a crippling deluge unseen in the United States since Hurricane Sandy – in just days, Southern Louisiana received nearly 30 inches of rain. More than 60,000 homes were destroyed, leaving 11,000 people homeless.

Food banks across the nation responded. Staff came together to assist with disaster relief and to support the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, whose warehouse was flooded with 4 feet of water. Feeding America, the national network of food banks, coordinates disaster response among members. When Feeding America puts out the call for help, food banks throughout the country step up to provide product, equipment, staff, and technical expertise to address the needs that follow a natural disaster.

“We got the call asking for assistance in Louisiana and we had staff in a truck on the road less than 48 hours later,” said Sheila Creghin, vice president of operations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

In that truck were Food Depository employees Shane Lanning and Jose DeSantiago.

“When we pulled off the interstate in Louisiana, all I could think was, ‘wow.’ For miles, people’s belongings were out in trash piles in their front yards. There was soaked garbage everywhere,” said Shane, a Food Depository warehouse worker.

With the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank underwater, Shane and Jose were directed to drive to New Orleans. They worked with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans, alongside staff from other food banks across the region, to respond to the disaster.

“People were definitely happy to see us,” Jose said. “Some of the food bank staff had been working 18 days straight when we arrived.”

Jose and Shane helped in every way they could. Jose, a Food Depository truck driver, did disaster relief deliveries. He made the two hour trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to get food and essential supplies like bottled water to people displaced by the flooding. Meanwhile, with many of Second Harvest’s regular warehouse staff busy with disaster response, Shane helped prepare and load food so that deliveries to the food bank’s partner agencies wouldn’t be delayed.

While serving hot meals in Baton Rouge, Shane and Jose had the chance to meet some of the people affected by the floods.

“One family that was there for a meal had been staying in a motel. The water kept rising and they eventually had to be rescued by a boat. They lost everything,” Jose said.

Shane and Jose were in Louisiana for two weeks, with two days of travel each way. Without hesitation, they both said they’d make the trip again.

"We were a thousand miles away from home, but we came to help. And we did," Shane said.

Friday, August 26, 2016

31 years of fighting hunger: Food Depository's longest-tenured employee to retire

Thank you Gloria for your 31 years of service to hungry men, women and children in our community.
When Gloria Scott started working full-time at the Greater Chicago Food Depository in 1985, the organization was only six years old. It distributed 19.3 million pounds of food that year, and had just settled into the 91,000 square foot warehouse at 4501 S. Tripp Avenue.

Thirty-one years later, Gloria will say goodbye to a much larger Food Depository, as she begins her retirement.

“This has been beyond just a job,” she said. “Working at the Food Depository has meant so much to me. I’ve learned so much from my coworkers and from the agencies. We’ve become a family.”

As impressive as her 31-year tenure is, Gloria has actually been with the organization for 34 years. She volunteered in the warehouse sorting food and then as an order checker for three years before being hired to work in inventory control.

"Gloria's warmth, optimism and unwavering dedication to our mission over the past three decades is incredibly inspiring," said Kate Maehr, Food Depository executive director and CEO. "She's made a lasting impact on hunger in our community, and for that we are truly grateful."

In her current role, Gloria processes agency food orders, responds to agency questions and makes sure agency food pickups run smoothly. She’s always had a passion for helping out.

“Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always cared for this type of work,” she said. “I just love reaching out in whatever way I can. I always want to be able to help people.”

Her dedication to fighting hunger extends beyond the workplace. In her spare time, she runs a food pantry in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, which she will continue to manage in retirement.

“There’s a greater need now than ever before,” she said. “I see it at my pantry and at work. More and more people are turning to agencies for help.”

Eventually, she’ll be moving to Michigan to be closer to her daughter. But until she does, she’s looking forward to expanding the services of her pantry. She’d like to offer clients exercise tips and teach them how to crochet.

Gloria, second from left, looks on as former Food Depository executive director Mike Mulqueen talks to staff at a meeting in the early 1990's.
Looking back, Gloria never expected to be in one place so long.

“During those years I was just volunteering at the Food Depository, I never dreamed I’d work here - let alone this long. Now that I’ve been through it, it was definitely worth the stay,” she says, laughing.

And after 31 years, she’s retiring with the same passion she had for the cause in 1985.

“It feels great to be in one job with a mission and to be able to accomplish that every day,” she said. “If I helped even one person, I know my time at the Food Depository was worth it.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

School breakfast expands to 175,000 Illinois students

The effective "Breakfast After the Bell" model for school breakfast programs will expand to more than 175,000 additional children in Illinois thanks to a bill that was signed into law today. SB 2393 unanimously passed the Illinois House and Senate this spring.

With one in five children in Illinois at risk of hunger, there is a substantial need for school breakfast. Children who eat breakfast are better able to learn and focus. The state currently ranks 42nd out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in providing breakfast to children at school.

Thanks to the new law, breakfast will be an official part of the school day in low-income schools, guaranteeing that every student has access to the healthy food they need to learn. Incorporating breakfast into the school day removes barriers that children face, such as transportation challenges and the stigma associated with receiving free and reduced-price meals. The new requirement takes effect on January 1, 2017.

“Illinois children have such incredible potential, but hunger stifles that potential. In order to grow up healthy and excel in the classroom, children need to eat breakfast,” said Kate Maehr, co-chair of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “This new law makes breakfast accessible to more kids in our state and provides them the nourishment they need to succeed.”

Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast makes a measurable impact on children's ability to learn: for example, kids who eat breakfast score 17% higher on standardized math tests, according to research from Feeding America.

“Monday mornings can be hard for some children, especially if they start the day hungry after a weekend of inconsistent food sources. This new legislation will go a long way in providing a nourishing breakfast for the children of Illinois,” said Tom Browning, co-chair of the Illinois No Kid Hungry Working Group and Director, Childhood Nutrition & Wellness at Illinois Action for Children.

A statewide coalition of organizations advocated for the Breakfast After the Bell legislation, including Bread for the World, COFI, Catholic Charities, Central Illinois Foodbank, Eastern Illinois Foodbank, EverThrive Illinois, Feeding America, Feeding Illinois, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Heartland Alliance, Hope Response Coalition, Illinois Action for Children, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Illinois Migrant Council, Illinois Public Health Institute, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Ounce of Prevention, River Bend Foodbank, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, St. Louis Area Foodbank , Tri-State Food Bank, Voices for Illinois Children and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Uniting Fresh Food and Clinical Care: FRESH Truck at Oak Forest Health Center

The latest addition to the partnership between Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) and the Greater Chicago Food Depository is the FRESH Truck mobile produce distribution at Oak Forest Health Center. On Thursday morning, patients received food vouchers from their doctors for a visit to the FRESH Truck. As they walked through the truck, volunteers provided assistance with selecting a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including melons, celery, potatoes, onions, and cabbage. More than 125 clients took home produce.

Doctors and patients agree that this nutritious, accessible food can lead to better health outcomes for people with chronic diseases. Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezike sees many patients with lifestyle-related conditions like diabetes and hypertension in his practice at Oak Forest Health Center. “Many of the patients don’t have the option to find healthy, good quality food,” he says. “The program will benefit patients not only by giving them better food, but also by encouraging them to keep their appointments with our clinic.”

As part of the partnership between the Food Depository and CCHHS, Dr. Ezike and his colleagues now screen their patients for food insecurity. Most patients have been receptive, he says: many mention related challenges, such as lack of access to transportation. Bringing the FRESH Truck to a convenient site like the health center addresses some of these barriers. The Oak Forest Health Center also informs patients who are food insecure about nearby food pantries available to them.

Donnel Jones with produce from the FRESH Truck
One patient, Donnel Jones, walked off the FRESH Truck with three bags of vegetables. “It came in handy,” he says. He learned about the FRESH Truck when he received greens and kale from the Oak Forest Health Center’s community garden recently, along with a voucher for the upcoming FRESH Truck distribution. “I love cooking – I learned that from my mom,” he recalls. Donnel would love to include more fresh produce in his diet, but it can be a challenge to afford these items. His SNAP benefits have been reduced by more than half, and the $80 in assistance he receives each month doesn’t go far at a grocery store. Being able to prepare fresh greens and vegetables makes a substantial difference in his diet.

Dr. John Jay Shannon, CEO of Cook County Health and Hospitals System, was at Oak Forest to see the FRESH Truck in action. He anticipates a broader impact for the culture of the health center: “It goes beyond material clinical care. It gets clinicians thinking about the community that we serve,” Dr. Shannon said. He notes that “there’s been a marked suburbanization of poverty.” The partnership between CCHHS and the Food Depository represents a key opportunity to address food insecurity throughout the county while educating both patients and their doctors about the impact of healthy food. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer meals offer nutrition for kids and teens

Children eat lunch outside the McKinley Library
On a sunny June afternoon, children come running down the sidewalk behind McKinley Library on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Each kid walks away with a boxed meal from the Lunch Bus, including nutritious food like raisins, whole-grain Goldfish crackers, milk, and applesauce. Once the school year is out, these meals fulfill a crucial need, feeding children who count on free and reduced-price lunches at school.

Summer can be a challenging time for low-income families who struggle to afford food and childcare. The Summer Food Service Program ensures that children still have access to nourishing meals. Since 1968, the USDA has funded the Summer Food Service Program with a grant to state agencies, who reimburse community organizations like the Greater Chicago Food Depository to deliver the meals where they are needed most. This summer, the Food Depository expects to serve more than 600,000 meals at more than 300 sites.

Lunch Buses travel throughout the city and south suburbs all summer, transporting meals to easily accessible neighborhood sites every weekday. Find the full Lunch Bus route here. Since these meals are only available to children and teens 18 and under, interns and volunteers also help adults find food pantries by distributing informational flyers.

Joe has volunteered as a Lunch Bus driver for the past three years.  His reason for volunteering is simple: “It makes you feel good.” At the McKinley Library, he works with Christian, a Food Depository AmeriCorps intern, to distribute more than 75 meals in 20 minutes. Children eat their lunches in a small park beside the library, while parents enjoy an opportunity for outdoor time with their kids.

Christian and Joe with the Lunch Bus

Christian is spending his second summer as an intern on the Lunch Bus. “Seeing the kids’ faces every day is my favorite part,” he says. “It’s really humbling.” Christian answers parents’ questions about the program in English and Spanish and tracks the number of meals served at each site.

From the library, the Lunch Bus proceeds to St. Pancratius church in Brighton Park. After receiving their lunches, children line up to receive free age-appropriate books from Bernie’s Book Bank.  By distributing books alongside the Lunch Bus, Bernie’s Book Bank supports literacy for children in need. Children express their excitement and gratitude for both the books and the meals.

Although the Lunch Bus serves thousands of meals, an unmet need remains: only 14 percent of children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year utilize summer meals. Families in need of summer meals can find their nearest site by texting FOODIL to 877877, calling 800-359-2163, or visiting to locate meal sites.

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

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

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  

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

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

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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

AmeriCorps manager of VA food pantry attends State of the Union address

Loretta Coleman, left, and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Service to others is woven into the fabric of Loretta Coleman’s life. She spent 10 years in the U.S. Armed Forces, including four years of active duty in the Air Force and six years in the Army Reserve. She’s currently an AmeriCorps member, managing the Greater Chicago Food Depository veterans pantry at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago.

“There’s always an opportunity to lend a helping hand, no matter how small,” she said. “It’s a part of who I am.”

In honor of her dedication to service, Loretta was invited by U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in January to attend the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.

“I felt honored to be chosen,” she said. “From the moment I got off the plane, it was a whirlwind experience.”

Loretta was excited to be a part of President Obama’s final State of the Union, but was even more appreciative of what the President said about the importance of those serving our country.

“That’s part of what makes this nation great – that people are willing to give of themselves,” she said.

In addition to attending the address, Loretta took a tour of the White House and the Washington monuments.

She returned home with a reinforced conviction that helping others should be an important part of everyone’s lives. She also returned home with hope – that despite the continuing need among veterans in Cook County, there’s progress being made.

“I’d like to see a day when we don’t need food pantries for veterans, but the reality is that we do,” she said. “But I know how grateful they are, and how much we’re making a difference.”  

The veterans pantries at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital serve as many as 3,000 individuals per month.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Food Depository, County unveil Food Access Plan

From left to right at the unveiling of the Cook County Food Access Plan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Vision of Restoration food pantry coordinator Tanya Lee, Cook County Health and Hospitals System CEO John Jay Shannon, Food Depository executive director and CEO Kate Maehr, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and Village of Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins.

A two-year plan led by the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Cook County aims to strengthen the response to food insecurity and expand access to nutritious food in the county's suburbs.

On Tuesday, the Food Depository and County unveiled the Cook County Food Access Plan.

“The plan provides a roadmap to increase the availability of nutritious food for people in need,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

The Plan focuses on three goals:

  • Expanding a food insecurity screening and referral system at Cook County Health and Hospitals System locations to increase patient access to community food resources as needed.
  • Creating a Suburban Cook County Child Nutrition work group to increase student access and participation in School Breakfast and Summer Meals programs.
  • Growing the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and incentive programs at farmers markets and farm stands throughout Cook County.
The Plan will be implemented by an appointed task force, which will be housed in the County President’s office.

“Hunger is a solvable problem, but it does require work and collaboration. Together, we want to make sure everyone in our community has access to quality nutrition and healthy food so they can live healthy lives,” said Kate Maehr, Food Depository executive director and CEO.

As the Plan gets underway, the need in Cook County remains high. One in six people – more than 812,000 – are turning to the Food Depository’s network for food each year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 68 million pounds of food, including nearly 24 million pounds of produce.

For more information, read the full Food Access Plan.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Illinois law expands SNAP access to more low-income families

Food Depository advocates asked lawmakers to support S.B. 1847 during Lobby Day in Springfield last May.

An Illinois law that took effect January 1 will enable more low-income families to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Senate Bill 1847 increases the SNAP income limit from 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 165 percent of FPL. The expanded limit provides access to SNAP for families that were making slightly too much to qualify for the program but still struggling. It is estimated that the new law will enable 40,000 previously ineligible families to receive SNAP benefits.

Food Depository staff, volunteers and partner agencies encouraged lawmakers to support the bill during Lobby Day in Springfield last May. It passed through the General Assembly with bipartisan support and was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in July.

For more information about the Food Depository’s advocacy efforts, visit