The 1 in 5: Community organizers raise awareness of free summer meals
|A door hanger left by COFI community organizers detailing how to access free summer meal programs.
“There are plenty of good people here,” Tara Williams said as she stood on the corner of 63rd St. and Carpenter Ave. in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
Her sentiments are echoed by her fellow community organizers Donna Carpenter, Valerie Carroll and Charlene Campbell. Tara, Donna and Valerie are longtime Englewood residents, and take extra pride in their community organizing efforts in Englewood.
The four women work with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) and spend their days canvassing high-need Chicago neighborhoods to increase awareness of free summer meal programs available for children.
“We go door to door, speaking with people and giving them packets of information about summer meals near them. We’ll also leave door hangers at houses where no one answers, and we hope that they read the information and use it or pass it along to a friend or family member,” said Charlene, a longtime COFI community organizer.
|COFI community organizer Charlene Campbell knocks on the door of a home in the Englewood neighborhood.
The need for food assistance among children in Englewood is high. More than 60 percent of children live in poverty, which creates further barriers to a steady and nutritious food supply.
During the summer, COFI community organizers reach out to the community to spread the word about free summer meal sites on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Other COFI community organizers also canvass throughout South Lawndale in Chicago, and in suburban Cicero.
Even with a high number of Englewood residents facing food insecurity, the COFI community organizers are optimistic that their canvassing efforts are bringing a good service to residents everywhere they go.
With the help of summer meals outreach, the Food Depository is on track to serve more than 400,000 meals to children this summer through programs such as the Lunch Bus and a new meal distribution at five Chicago Public Library branches.