No 1 should go hungry, yet nearly 800,000 people in Cook County are unsure of when they will receive their next meal. — Greater Chicago Food Depository [GCFD]
Opened in 1979, GCFD serves more than 232,100 households annually across Cook County, IL with a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger.
In 2013, the Food Depository distributed 67 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 154,000 meals every day. They expect to exceed that when the 2014 numbers are finalized. Over 20,000 volunteer hours per year are deployed – the equivalent of 47 full-time employees.
69 percent of GCFD’s client households have incomes that fall at or below the federal poverty level. 54 percent of client households have annual incomes of $10,000 or less. In my blog last week, I reminisced about my graduate school paper that explored a political theory based on Abraham Maslow’s principles of self-actualization. The first stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is basic life needs like food. Hunger thwarts personal growth in multiple ways.
The last week of 2014, I visited with a former CANDO colleague Steven McCullough, who has been Vice President of Community Partnerships at GCFD since 2012. Steven had been in the private sector for over 10 years as a Senior Consultant at Accenture and a Supply Chain Manager for Quaker/PepsiCo, when I recruited him to become Director of Finance at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations (CANDO) in 1999. I like to joke he was my succession plan until he was hired away by Bethel New Life and eventually became its President & CEO.
Steven has brought his many talents to the non-profit sector these last 15 years. He shared several of the innovative strategies that GCFD is pursuing to achieve their #1 strategic goal: Ensure the adequate supply, delivery and access to healthy food options for all people in need.
Community Kitchens is a 14-week culinary training program with a new class starting every month. Currently, its After School Kids Café is serving 3000 children per day at 80 sites. By the summer of 2015, they will be expanding to serve 30,000 meals per week and striving to become a social enterprise meal vendor for schools year round.
Given his community roots and his portfolio of community partnerships, Steven is promoting the establishment of community-based hubs among GCFD’s five Cook County regions as a new strategic initiative.
He is also looking forward to more community outreach events starting in Spring 2015 with the licensing of a Walgreen’s recently donated mobile van that will enable fresh healthy food cooking demonstrations. This education component will further GCFD’s objective to increase the proportion of fresh produce of its overall distribution, at 36% as of this past November.
Maybe the 114th Congress could find new ways to feed the American people so NO 1 GOES HUNGRY!
This week’s U2Cando lyrics: “Them Belly Full (but We Hungry)” by Bob Marley
Cost of livin’ gets so high,
Rich and poor they start to cry:
Now the weak must get strong;
They say, “Oh, what a tribulation!”
Them belly full, but we hungry;
A hungry mob is a angry mob.
A rain a-fall, but the dirt it tough;
A pot a-cook, but d’ food no ‘nough.