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Hunger Beat

52 Stories, 52 Weeks: Food for families

Araceli Escobedo with two of her daughters, Karina and Giselle, at the Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy Healthy Kids Market.
For Araceli Escobedo, the Healthy Kids Market at Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy in the Archer Heights neighborhood isn’t only convenient, it’s a huge help.

Healthy Kids Markets are market-style food distributions in schools in high-need areas across Chicago. The program is a collaboration between the Food Depository and Chicago Public Schools. Any family with children at the school is eligible to receive food. At Gunsaulus, fresh fruit and vegetables, plus shelf-stable items, are distributed every Thursday. Four of Araceli’s children go to the school, so when she picks them up on Thursdays, she is able to get food she otherwise might not be able to afford.

“It’s a really big help,” she said. “In the winter time, vegetables just get so expensive in the stores. It’s just difficult to afford that right now.”

Araceli and her husband own a home near the school. Her husband works full-time as a mechanic, but she recently lost her job. The couple is struggling to support their children, and the Healthy Kids Market makes that easier.

“My kids love fruit and vegetables, so I try to make sure I’m at the distribution every Thursday,” Araceli said.

For many individuals in Cook County struggling with food insecurity, the winter months can be even more difficult, as utility bills increase. That’s the case for Araceli, who has just started to see a spike in costs.

“It’s pretty tough,” she said. “Between the mortgage, and the bills, it’s hard. So when I have to buy food, I have to shop the sales. That’s why this food is really important.”

The Healthy Kids Market at Gunsaulus has only been operating since September, but word of the program has already spread. The distribution is averaging nearly 200 individuals per week.

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