UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A group of independent restauranteurs from Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park and Bucktown are teaming up Wednesday to provide hundreds of Thanksgiving meals to those in need.
Meals will be given away 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday at Bucktown sports bar Jack & Ginger’s, 2048 W. Armitage Ave.
Robert Magiet, owner of TaKorea Cocina at 1022 N. Western Ave., is spearheading the grassroots effort and is still accepting meal requests. To reserve a meal for pickup Wednesday, email email@example.com. Put “Thanksgiving Meals” in the subject line.
Meal packages will include turkey, smoked ham, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetable salad, creamy mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and cookies. Meals were funded by neighbors, are being cooked by neighborhood restaurants, and will be packaged and distributed by neighborhood volunteers.
Magiet said he was partially inspired by his partnership with the Love Fridge, a nonprofit giving away food through refrigerators placed around the city, as well stories of child hunger shared by his wife, who is a Chicago Public Schools teacher.
“I can’t imagine any of my children not having food to eat and having to go to different locations to make ends meet,” Magiet said. “Whatever I can do, whatever help I can offer. It’s just food. And people need to eat.”
Magiet initially hoped to raise enough money to cover the costs for 50 meals. But thanks to an “outpouring” of donations, neighbors paid for about 800 meals. As of Monday afternoon, he’s received 926 meal requests — so donations will still make a difference.
“The donations keep coming in,” Magiet said. “All family meals feed four people. If there are five to six members in a family, we’ll gladly give them two family meals. We’re just here to help people get food and have a proper Thanksgiving.”
More than 250 neighbors volunteered their time to help cook, package and distribute meal packages. Though he won’t need nearly that many people, it was heartwarming to see people step up during a pandemic, Magiet said.
Several Chicago chefs, unemployed because of the pandemic, volunteered, as well. The owners of Milk and Honey in Wicker Park are donating 1,200 cookies while Ukrainian Village spots Boeufhaus and Joey G’s Mac N Cheese are donating creamy mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, respectively.
Finally, mutual aid organizations connected Maignet with families or individuals in need. Mutual aid volunteers will also distribute single-serve meals to local senior home residents.
Magiet said he hopes this week’s meal giveaway will be the start of a more consistent effort to prepare meals for people experiencing homelessness and for people in need.
He’s already planning a Christmas giveaway.
“When you are a positive part of the community, other people want to join in,” he said. “We’re gonna piggy back off this … continue to do great things.”
Donations can be made via Venmo to @takoreacocina or via Zelle/Quickpay to 773-807-0057. Funds that are not used this week will be used toward future meal giveaways.
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