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Spreading the Love in Oak Forest

A family being helped at the Hattie B. Williams Food Pantry.

Jacqueline Maxson and her two grandchildren, Aaliyah and Kamarion, at the Hattie B. food pantry in Oak Forest.

The Hattie B. pantry has been feeding people in their south-suburban community since 1991, when their namesake, the late Hattie B. Williams, saw a need in the community and decided to do something about it.

On average, the pantry serves 778 households a month, or 2,235 individuals. More than 60 percent of the people they serve come from nearby Robbins, Harvey, Calumet Park, Dixmoor, Dolton and Ford Heights, which are some of the communities with the highest food insecurity rates in the Chicago area.

Pantry coordinator Annie Hill has led the pantry since 2014, when her sister, Hattie B., passed away. “There is a huge need for this food pantry in our community,” she says.

Jacqueline Maxson, 60, agrees, especially after a stroke prevented her from working for several weeks. “It’s a blessing to have a place like this, where people can receive help when they need it,” she says.

“This is a lot of help. I have many people to feed, and this pantry has made that easier for me,” she says, gesturing toward her two grandchildren, Aaliyah, 9, and Kamarion, 7, for whom she is a caretaker.

I know these kids can't wait to eat this food," she says. "I'm just so grateful."


In 2019, a powerful storm devastated almost half of Oak Forest, including the Hattie B. pantry. Thanks to private funding and support from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Hattie B. was able to construct a brand-new building at the same Oak Forest location, growing over nine times in size from the original building.

“People from all walks of life come to this pantry, from all different situations. Everybody is welcome here at Hattie B.,” Annie says. “We don’t judge people here; we help . . . we do it because we love people.”

On behalf of families and children across Chicago and Cook County, thank you for providing nutritious food to the people who need it most!