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Pop-Up Food Pantries Coming To South And West Sides: ‘The Need Is Astronomical’

The organization is teaming up with community groups to open seven pop-ups in neighborhoods hit hard by the coronavirus like Austin, Woodlawn and Roseland.

A Greater Chicago Food Depository truck.
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CHICAGO — The Greater Chicago Food Depository is teaming up with faith-based and community-based groups to open seven pop-up food pantries in neighborhoods hit hard by the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday.

The expansion is a direct response to the “astronomical need” for food in the time of coronavirus, particularly among Black and Latino residents in resource-starved neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.

The food pantries will operate at churches and community centers throughout the city, and will stay open for five weeks, Lightfoot said. Some will begin distributing food to those in need this weekend. A full list of the pop-up locations and kick-off dates can be found on the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s website.

“We are seeing record numbers of people having to turn to food pantries and soup kitchens, some who have relied on those organizations and some who are turning to them for the first time,” Kate Maehr, CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said at a Monday press conference.

In some South and West Side neighborhoods, Maehr said the need for food assistance is three to four times what is typical.

Lightfoot said she spoke to Ald. Sue Garza, whose 10th Ward includes the Far South Side, and said they normally feed about 150 families but now are providing food assistance to 500 families.

“People are really hurting,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said the Greater Chicago Food Depository will deliver truckloads of food — non-perishable food items, fresh produce and frozen protein — to the seven sites beginning this week. Each site will serve between 500 and 1,000 households, according to Lightfoot.

Ald. Derrick Curtis, whose 18th Ward includes South Side neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham and Auburn, said in recent weeks the Greater Chicago Food Depository has safely brought food to some of the senior centers in his ward and it was a huge help.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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