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Hunger Beat

Greater Chicago Food Depository, Jesse Brown VA, AmeriCorps launch veterans food pantry

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (second from left) and representatives from the City of Chicago, AmeriCorps, and Greater Chicago Food Depository cut the ribbon to open the veterans pantry on Monday.

David Rogers, a U.S. Army Veteran, sees the need for hunger-relief in the veteran community first hand.

David volunteers at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center five days a week, and will also help out at the new veterans food pantry.

“There’s an absolute need for a food pantry at the VA,” he said. “To be able to supplement veterans’ diets with fresh food like this is what I call ‘soul food.’”

David is disabled and unable to work. He will also receive food from the weekly distribution.

“Anything that can support the daily needs that I have is a huge help,” he said. “Getting additional food like this balances things out, it makes it easier to live.”

The veterans pantry at the Jesse Brown VA is a collaboration between the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, and AmeriCorps. Launched on Monday, it is the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of the only food pantries for veterans in the country that is actually at a VA facility.

David Rogers, U.S. Army Veteran, will volunteer and receive food from the pantry.

The pantry will distribute fresh produce and shelf-stable items every Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. It is managed by TaQuoya Kennedy, a Food Depository AmeriCorps member and Air Force Veteran. The pantry is expected to serve approximately 800 veterans per month.

For David, the veterans pantry at Jesse Brown VA has been a long time coming. He has been coming to the facility for medical care since 1966. David considers the facility a second home, and thinks of the staff and fellow veterans as a second family. While the pantry is certainly helping David get the nutritious food he needs, he is ultimately involved with the effort because of the pride he feels in helping other veterans.

“We have those moments when we have a purpose, when we have meaning again,” David said. “This pantry, helping out here, this is one of those moments.”

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