Luis Gomez is especially aware of the children who come through the food pantry at First Presbyterian Kimbark in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, where he volunteers every week. When he was a young boy, he would have loved to come to a place like this with tables full of free, nutritious produce, meat, and shelf-stable goods.
Growing up with his three siblings and single mom, Gomez didn’t have much to eat. “I came from the projects – Ashland and Race,” he said. “My mom would ask our neighbors for food, but they didn’t have any either.”
Gomez remembers eating hot peppers with bread, and another time raw onions, whatever his family could get their hands on.
“Going without food built up anxiety in my heart and soul,” he said.
It’s memories like these that motivate Gomez to volunteer every week at First Presbyterian Kimbark's food pantry. He lives half a block away with his girlfriend and the two kids they work hard to provide regular meals for.
Gail Robinson, the pantry coordinator, calls Gomez an unsung hero of the food pantry, and one of the key reasons their Free Food Market is able to serve about 130 families each week. He’s there every Wednesday for set-up and every Thursday to distribute food, helping to protect his neighbors from the tough realities of hunger.
When asked what message his younger self would have for him, seeing his work to ensure others have enough food, Gomez got emotional. With tears rolling down his face, he finally whispered, “He would smile.”
“This place represents my hopes and dreams for helping others,” said Gomez, standing behind the produce table at the food pantry. “This place is my heart.”
The thousands of volunteers who help our pantries and other meal programs carry out their work in communities across Cook County are the lifeblood of the Food Depository’s work. Their dedication and passion make it possible to feed our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Join us in our mission to end hunger! Learn all the ways you can volunteer to make an impact in your community.