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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Friendship Center Hosting Friday Night Dinner For CPS Teachers

CPS teachers who have been on the picket line these past 11 days can get a free dinner Friday at Lincoln Square's food pantry.

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union hold up signs during a Thursday rally Downtown.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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RAVENSWOOD — CPS teachers who have been on the picket line during the teachers strike can get a free dinner Friday at Lincoln Square’s food pantry.

The free dinner for CPS teachers and their families begins at 6 p.m. at Friendship Center, 2711 W. Lawrence Ave.

“We’re here for communities who are hungry, whatever the reason. Back when the government was shut down we ended up helping a lot of TSA workers,” said Ross Outten, director of development for the Friendship Center.

Over the last week, many volunteers at the food pantry told him teachers were going through a hard time during the strike. Since August, the pantry has hosted a weekly Thursday dinner for the community where anyone could drop by for a meal, no questions asked.

Outten said it was pretty logical to extend that to a second day for CPS teachers. On Tuesday, the food pantry began planning and prepping for Friday’s dinner for teachers.

“We know from friends that teachers and their families have had a tough time over the past weeks as the process drags on,” Outten said. “The idea was if they didn’t have a deal by Friday people would be missing paychecks and may lose their health insurance. Now that the strike is over, it’s kind of a celebratory dinner.”

On Thursday, the city and teacher’s union reached an agreement, ending the 11-day strike. Classes resumed on Friday.

The Friendship Center has its roots in North Park Covenant Church. The pantry started in the summer of 1969. Over the decades, it’s grown into a nonprofit serving Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and West Ridge.

The food pantry feeds more than 1,700 people on Chicago’s northwest side every month through its onsite food pantry and hot meal program.

“Sadly, the need keeps growing,” Outten said. “That’s why volunteers and donors are vital to our efforts to fight and alleviate hunger.”

Anyone interested in helping out with the weekly Thursday dinners (or Friday’s CPS dinner) is invited to email Outten at ross@friendshipcenterchicago.org.

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