Ever since our founding in 1978, we have been committed to nourishing Chicago. Over the years, we have expanded our programs and services to meet the urgent need affecting one in six Cook County residents. Here are some notable milestones in our history.
Tom O’Connell, Robert W. Strube, Sr., Father Philip Marquard, Gertrude Snodgrass, Ann Connors and Ed Sunshine incorporate a food bank called the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository opens at Robert Strube’s produce stall in the South Water Market and operations begin. The Food Depository distributed 471,000 pounds of food from 22 food donors to 85 agencies in its first year of operation.
Supply grew when Illinois legislators passed a Good Samaritan law limiting liability for food producers who donate their surplus. Within a year food donors increased to 111, distribution to 6.1 million pounds and agencies to 375.
The growing Food Depository settled in a 91,000-square-foot facility at 4501 South Tripp Avenue.
The Food Depository established a Perishable Food Program, now known as Food Rescue, with a grant from Chicago Community Trust. Food Rescue collects unused, but edible, food from grocers for distribution to food pantries and soup kitchens.
The Produce People Share Program addressed the need for fresh fruits and vegetables in the community. The first Kids Cafe® began serving after-school hot meals for low-income children.
Distribution topped 25 million pounds. Chicago’s Community Kitchens, a free, 14-week culinary training program for unemployed and underemployed adults, was founded.
The first Producemobile, a farmers’ market on wheels, began distributing fresh produce to low-income communities.
Opened a new 268,000-square-foot warehouse and training center that brought all programs under one roof and became an international model for food banks. Pantry University, a training program for staff and volunteers from member agencies, opened its doors.
A second Producemobile began operation.
Nourish for Knowledge Children’s Program and an Older Adult Program launched.
Responding to the need on nights and weekends, the Mobile Pantry Program began operating.
Benefits Outreach services began to assist eligible individuals in applying for federal nutrition benefits.
Children’s programs expanded with Healthy Kids Markets in schools and summer Lunch Bus meal distributions at community sites.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens reached a milestone of 1,000 graduates. Fresh produce increased to 33 percent of all food distributed.
Outreach to food insecure veterans expanded with the opening of a weekly food pantry at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
A second food pantry for veterans opened, distributing food once a week at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.
Community health providers launched food insecurity screening and referrals. Partners include the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and ACCESS Community Health Network.
The Food Depository distributed more than 70 million pounds of food in FY16, including 24 million pounds of produce. The network of 700 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and programs in Cook County continues to deliver this food where it is needed most.