The Greater Chicago Food Depository started in 1978 with six people and a dream to nourish Chicago. Over the years, we have expanded and evolved our programs and services to meet the changing needs of Cook County.
In 2019, the Food Depository honored 40 years of service. Read our blog post for the full story of how we grew from grassroots. Here are some notable milestones in our history.
Tom O’Connell, Robert W. Strube, Sr., Father Philip Marquard, Gertrude Snodgrass, Ann Connor and Ed Sunshine incorporate the first food bank in Illinois – 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.
Supply grows as Illinois legislators pass the Good Samaritan Food Donor Act, which limited liability for food producers that donated surplus to charities.
The Food Depository moves to a new home, a 91,000-square-foot facility at 4501 South Tripp Avenue.
The Food Depository establishes a Perishable Food Program, now known as Food Rescue, with a grant from The 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 addresses the need for fresh fruits and vegetables in the community. The first Kids Cafe® begins serving after-school hot meals for low-income children.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens, a free culinary job training program for unemployed and underemployed adults, is founded. Distribution tops 25 million pounds.
The first Producemobile, a farmers’ market on wheels, begins distributing fresh produce to low-income communities.
The Food Depository opens a new 268,000-square-foot warehouse and training center that brings all programs under one roof at 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, where the Food Depository is today. Pantry University, a training program for staff and volunteers from member agencies, opens its doors.
Nourish for Knowledge Children’s Program and an Older Adult Program launch.
Responding to the need on nights and weekends, the Mobile Pantry Program begins operation.
Benefits Outreach services begin to assist eligible individuals in applying for federal nutrition benefits.
Children’s programs expand with Healthy Kids Markets in schools and summer Lunch Bus meal distributions at community sites.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens reaches a milestone of 1,000 graduates. Fresh produce increases to 33 percent of all food distributed.
A new weekly food pantry at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center expands outreach to veterans experiencing food insecurity.
A second food pantry for veterans opens, distributing food once a week at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. The Food Depository’s VA partnerships continue to this day. Their success has served as a national model for other partnerships throughout the Feeding America network.
The Food Depository partners with community health providers to distribute fresh produce to people screen positive for food insecurity at partnering health clinics. Partners include the Cook County Health and Hospitals System and ACCESS Community Health Network.
The Food Depository releases a report on food insecurity among adults with disabilities in Cook County. The report demonstrates food insecurity is disproportionately high among adults with disabilities. It also proposes program, partnership and policy recommendations to address the issue.
Starbucks and Feeding America launch the Starbucks FoodShare program in Cook County. In an extension of Food Rescue, the Food Depository’s first overnight routes pick up unsold prepared food items from Starbucks stores and deliver them to homeless shelters.
Project Nourish begins, a renovation to our facility to address the evolving need in Chicago and Cook County. The project plan includes expanding cold storage space and opening a new volunteer orientation space, among other improvements.
The Food Depository is at the center of a robust network of more than 700 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and programs in Chicago and throughout Cook County. Looking ahead, the Food Depository is actively planning an expansion of its responses to the root causes of hunger through Nourish Phase 2.