Northwest Food Partners Network Distributes over 40,000 Pounds of Produce in Humboldt Park

On 6/6/20, the Northwest Food Partners Network and Kells Park Community Council successfully distributed over 40,000 pounds of produce to our community.

About the Giveaway

On Saturday, June 6th, the Northwest Food Partners Network (NFPN), Kells Park Community Council, and La Casa Norte successfully distributed a shipment of over 1600 boxes of produce to Chicagoans living in Humboldt Park and surrounding neighborhoods.

The 1620 boxes of produce were provided to us by Food Rescue US, which received the boxes through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program.

Strict social distancing and mask-wearing practices were put in place during the giveaway, minimizing the possible spread of COVID-19.

Each box was filled with approximately 25 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Altogether, over 40,000 pounds of produce were distributed, promoting the health and happiness of hundreds of households.

Block Club Chicago wrote an article sharing our event, leading to an enormous turnout. Within two hours, all 40,000 pounds of produce were distributed.

Addressing COVID-19

In the community we serve, food, socioeconomic status, and health are inextricably linked. During COVID-19, the health and nutrition of our community have become especially vulnerable. Our produce giveaway was an effort to address these vulnerabilities.

A woman receiving produce for her family from a volunteer at our June 2020 Produce Giveaway

Due to layoffs and other unemployment situations, demand at food pantries and hot meal programs in our community has skyrocketed. This April, traffic on NFPN’s emergency food resources page went up 1000% compared to this February.

While donations have risen, finding the PPE and volunteers necessary to safely distribute food has not been easy. Some emergency food providers in our community have been forced to shut down or operate in a reduced capacity during the pandemic. Health concerns have made it difficult for elderly and medically vulnerable community members to safely access emergency food.

Volunteers at La Casa Norte’s Nutrition Center.

By distributing over 40,000 pounds of fresh produce (and practicing social distancing while doing so) we took a small step towards food and health equity in our community. But there’s still much to be done, which is why we are currently coordinating future produce donations and distributions.

Why We Fight Hunger

In terms of food access, health outcomes, and socioeconomic status, the neighborhoods that NFPN focuses on (Humboldt Park, Hermosa, East Garfield Park, Belmont Cragin, West Town, and Logan Square) are among Chicago’s historically underserved communities.

The households we serve are largely located in food and transportation deserts. “L” train stops are few and far between, and supermarkets aren’t as abundant as they are in other parts of Chicago. This makes it difficult for community members to access fresh, nutritious produce.

In addition, household reliance on SNAP (i.e. “food stamps”) in our community is high, as depicted by the map below. Unfortunately, “junk food” often offers more calories per dollar and has a better shelf life than fresh fruits and vegetables.

SNAP (Food Stamp) Usage in Chicago (Map by Ryan Maia, NFPN)

Severe Housing Cost Burden rates are also well above the citywide average in many of the neighborhoods we serve. Families dealing with severe housing cost burdens are often forced to choose between paying the bills and buying nutritious food. Recent gentrification and soaring rent prices have only exacerbated this issue.

Severe Housing Cost Burden in Chicago (Map by Ryan Maia, NFPN)

As a result of these and other socioeconomic factors, the community we serve is seriously affected by nutrition-related health issues.

For example, Humboldt Park has a staggering 27.7% child obesity rate, almost 10% higher than the national average. Heart disease—”the nation’s top killer”—causes death among East Garfield Park residents at a rate of 309.4 per 100,000, significantly higher than the national rate of 163.6 per 100,000.

In addition to these health concerns, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color in Chicago. Both contraction and mortality rates have been notably higher for black and brown community members.

What Comes Next?

The Northwest Food Partners Network will continue to fight for an end to hunger in our community.

  • We’ll continue distributing nutritious food to our community and rescuing food that would otherwise end up in our landfill. Recognizing that food access intersects with so many other socioeconomic challenges, we’ll continue to create platforms that spread employment, housing, immigration, finances, and legal help—like our COVID-19 Hub and The NFPN Blog.
  • We’ve continued to add partners to our network during the ongoing pandemic, and we have no doubt our membership will only continue to expand. As our network grows, so will our capacity to fight—and ultimately end—hunger in our community.

Join Us in the Fight Against Hunger

Meal Sites for Families in Need This Week

A list of locations offering free meals for families in need this week in response to program stoppages

Photo credit: Chicago Mayor’s Office

This blog post was adapted from this article by Block Club Chicago.

Chicago Public Schools suspended its free meal program on Monday, June 1st, but the program will return Tuesday, June 2nd. Here’s a list of CPS meal sites. All previously scheduled meal deliveries will still be delivered. People who want to sign up for future deliveries from CPS can call 773-553-KIDS.

In response to food program stoppages, neighborhood groups and local restaurants are coming together to offer relief. Here is a list of locations offering free meals for families in need this week.

  • The 40th Ward Neighbor Network will deliver meals from CPS schools to families that need them Monday, according to Ald. Andre Vasquez. You can sign up to help here.
  • Humboldt Park Montessori, 2540 W. Division St., will have bagged lunches for families needing food starting at 12:15pm until they run out.
  • The Pilsen Food Pantry was calling for volunteers to help with additional food distribution Monday.
  • Cesar’s Killer Margaritas, 3166 N. Clark St. is distributing boxed meals for families in need from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in light of the CPS news. “We ask you practice social distance, and have a face mask,” the restaurant’s owners posted on Facebook.
  • Urban Grill Chicago, 1132 W. Wilson Ave., is offering free lunches to CPS students from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Christ Lutheran Church at 3253 W. Wilson Ave is providing food for families. If you can donate, you can bring by groceries before 1 p.m. The most useful items are bread, sandwich toppings, peanut butter & jelly, rice, soups, non-perishables, microwavable meals and fruits (other than apples).
  • The Rogers Park Community Response Team is working with local food pantries and restaurants for CPS families in need of food assistance. Those in need can contact the response team’s hotline at 773-831-7668.
  • A small group of people are giving away prepared and canned food 1-3 p.m. Monday ay 3000 N. Kedzie Ave.
  • 39th Ward Alderman Samantha Nugent’s office is also working with neighbors in need of food assistance. Please call her office at 773-736-5594 if you or someone you know is in need.
  • New Life Community Church at 3729 W. Leland Ave. is giving out food, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
  • Mexican restaurant Mi Tocaya — in partnership with Logan Square Neighborhood Association and The Power of 10 initiative — is giving out free meals to  Logan Square families in need each week. On Tuesday, the giveaways start at 11 a.m. at Monroe Elementary, 3651 W. Schubert Ave. Check for a full pickup schedule.
  • Teachers and staff at Brentano Math & Science Academy, 2723 N. Fairfield Ave., are giving out food. Contact: (773) 534-4100

Greater Chicago Food Depository Pop-Up Pantries

Greater Chicago Food Depository is expanding food access using new food distributions in African American and Latino communities in Chicago that have been devastated by the combination of COVID-19 and food insecurity.

In partnership with seven faith- and community-based organizations – and in collaboration with the City of Chicago – the Food Depository will deliver truckloads of food to pop-up food pantries on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Many of the communities that are hardest hit by the pandemic were already struggling with high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Through this urgent response, the Food Depository aims to build lasting partnerships to strengthen food access in these communities.

Click here to view the locations and schedules of pop-up pantry locations.

You can also view and download an English and Spanish flyer NFPN has created listing the pop-up pantry locations and schedules. These flyers were last updated 5/5/20.

Training: SNAP Work Requirement Training for Youth Homelessness Service Providers

Register to learn what the policy does, how it will impact you or your clients, and what you can do to help mitigate the impact.

As of January 1, 2020, SNAP recipients who are considered Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) living in Cook County must adhere to a work requirement in order to remain eligible for SNAP benefits. In addition, USDA recently released a rule that could extend this work requirement to nearly all counties in Illinois starting on April 1, 2020.

Continue reading “Training: SNAP Work Requirement Training for Youth Homelessness Service Providers”

Kilpatrick and Parker Community Garden and Kaila Designs Join NFPN Holiday Drive

Kilpatrick and Parker Community Garden, located at 4646 W Parker Ave

Throughout the rest of November, you can donate to the Northwest Food Partners Network Holiday Food and Item Drive through a box hosted by the Kilpatrick and Parker Community Garden and #SpreadLove by Kaila Designs in Belmont Cragin!

Continue reading “Kilpatrick and Parker Community Garden and Kaila Designs Join NFPN Holiday Drive”

Adam & Son Garden Center Hosts NFPN Holiday Drive Donation Site

Adams & Son Gardens, located at 1057 N California Ave, has supplied plants and gardening supplies to Chicago’s Northwest Side for the past 15 years.

From today through December 7th, you can donate to the Northwest Food Partners Network Holiday Food and Item Drive at Adam & Son Gardens in West Town!

Continue reading “Adam & Son Garden Center Hosts NFPN Holiday Drive Donation Site”