Phil Best

Food and music: Former client gives back to soup kitchen that changed his life

On Wednesdays, smooth, confident chords pour from a piano in the dining room at Breaking Bread Ministries. At the keys is Phil Best, a volunteer who used to receive a hot meal from the Greater Chicago Food Depository partner agency on the Near North Side once a week.

“I was in really bad shape when I first came here,” he said. “I had fallen on hard times and I was on the verge of being on the streets.”

Phil began coming to Breaking Bread in August of 2012, after losing his wife and being laid off from his job at a hotel.

“The soup kitchen was such a big help,” he said. “I knew that for at least one day a week I’d have a healthy meal. I’d look forward to it.”

While he was out of work, the Breaking Bread soup kitchen helped Phil make ends meet. Staff at the agency also helped connect him with a temporary work agency, and soon after, he was hired full-time by a legal support company.

“With the job, I was able to pay off my rent and my phone bill,” Phil said.

Four years later, Phil still comes to the meal on Wednesday nights – just not as a client. After work, he volunteers at the meal distribution, helping in the kitchen and setting tables. And after that, he can usually be found sitting at the piano.

“I grew up with a piano in my house and have been playing since I was young. I love music. The piano, this place, it’s a good release for me,” he said.

Because of the support he received from the Food Depository, Phil went from hungry to hopeful. This holiday season, Phil’s story is being featured in the Food Depository’s new ad campaign throughout Cook County. To see more stories told in the campaign, visit From Hungry to HopefulTM.

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