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Hunger Beat

Glimpses from the front lines: Food and compassion during COVID-19

In Black and Brown communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides, the Greater Chicago Food Depository has partnered with faith and community groups to feed thousands of families each week.

Our partners have done extraordinary work to meet the rising need for food assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. During an ongoing crisis with so few silver linings, their unflagging compassion and hard work gives us hope for a brighter future. Here are some glimpses from the new “pop-up” food distributions, part of the Food Depository’s broader response to the pandemic. All photos were taken by Joshua Lott for the Food Depository.
A volunteer at the Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn – one of more than 100 volunteers who help each week – gestures for cars to move forward during the weekly food pop-up.

Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, May 26

A volunteer at the Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn – one of more than 100 volunteers who help each week – gestures for cars to move forward during the weekly food “pop-up” food distribution.

 
Volunteers help residents effected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as they help distribute food donated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository at the Apostolic Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Friday, May 26, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Joshua Lott for GCFD

Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, May 26

In Chicago, Black and Brown communities on the South and West Sides have been the hardest hit by the virus and by rising food insecurity.

 
Cynthia Nobles, pictured here with her grandson, at the Apostolic Church of God pop-up distribution in Woodlawn

Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn, May 26

“It’s more than a notion, I’ll tell you that,” said Cynthia Nobles of the virus. Nobles, pictured here with her grandson, said that both her brother and cousin died from COVID-19.
 
Young men volunteering in Auburn Gresham carry boxes of fresh produce, meat and nonperishable food to a car.

Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, May 26

Young men volunteering in Auburn Gresham carry boxes of fresh produce, meat and nonperishable food to a car.

 
Gregory Dennis at the Auburn Greshman pop-up distribution

Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, May 26

“Right now? I’m not,” said Gregory Dennis, when asked how he’s making ends meet. Dennis is a cook at a soul food restaurant that closed because of the pandemic.
 
The new pop-up partners, like the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, are feeding people in communities that have suffered for years from disinvestment, structural racism, and as a result, high rates of food insecurity.

Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, May 26

The new pop-up partners, like the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, are feeding people in communities that have suffered for years from disinvestment, structural racism, and as a result, high rates of food insecurity.

 
A volunteer hands a neighbor a box of food at New Life Centers of Chicagoland, a new partner of the Food Depository.

New Life Centers of Chicagoland, Little Village, May 26

New Life Centers of Chicagoland, a new partner of the Food Depository, is feeding more than 5,000 families a week across seven mostly Latino immigrant communities.

 
Jasmine, 13 (right) and her mother, Viviana Bahena at the New Life pop-up distribution.

New Life Centers of Chicagoland, Little Village, May 26

“It’s been difficult because my dad hasn’t been able to work, but she’s very grateful for us receiving the food. It’s been very helpful,” said Jasmine, 13, translating for her mother, Viviana Bahena.
 
Volunteers with New Life Church help residents effected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as they distribute food donated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository in the Little Village neighborhood on Friday, May 26, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

New Life Centers of Chicagoland, Little Village, May 26

“It’s a real opportunity for us to walk together in this crisis and meet the need together,” said Matt DeMateo, New Life executive director (pictured here – front row, second from the left – with his team). “We’re here to meet the need for the long haul.”

 
Verona Wainwright poses with the food she received at the Trinity United Church of Christ pop-up distribution

Trinity United Church of Christ, Washington Heights, May 22

“To come here, it’s been a lot for me, because I’ve been able to stretch (my funds),” said Verona Wainwright, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ who visited its pop-up food distribution in late May. “I know what it’s like to not have.”
 
A volunteer at the Trinity United Church of Christ fills a car trunk with food

Trinity United Church of Christ, Washington Heights, May 22

Before COVID-19, nearly one-third of the population in the Washington Heights neighborhood was at risk of food insecurity. As those figures increase as a result of the business and school closures, pop-up distributions like the one hosted by Trinity United Church of Christ support families in need.

 
Jacquietta Jones receives food at the Trinity United Church of Christ

Trinity United Church of Christ, Washington Heights, May 22

“It helps that I know I’ve got some food to feed my kids,” Jacquietta Jones, a 30-year-old mother of two, said of Trinity’s pop-up distribution.
 
A family waits in line for food at The Quarry Arts and Wellness Center in South Shore

The Quarry Arts & Wellness Center, South Shore, May 22

In April 2020, the Food Depository’s network served 450 more individuals in the South Shore neighborhood than it had in January, before the spread of the virus. Pop-up distributions like the one hosted at The Quarry Arts & Wellness Center, run by South Shore Works and Real Men Charities, provide groceries for those in need.

 
A volunteer sits for a moment during the busy food distribution at The Quarry Arts and Wellness Center in South Shore

The Quarry Arts & Wellness Center, South Shore, May 22

A volunteer takes a breather during a busy food distribution in South Shore. Helpers packed food into cars as well as offered bags and boxes to those who came on foot.

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