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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

South Side Groups Team Up For El Día De Los Muertos To Feed Pilsen Families

For every four runners who signed up for Sunday's 5K, the Grocery Run Club and Pilsen Food Pantry will give a local family a week's worth of groceries.

A Grocery Run Club 5K hosted in summer 2021.
Manny Velasco
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PILSEN — Nonprofit Grocery Run Club is hosting an El Día de los Muertos 5K Sunday to promote health and wellness in Pilsen and sponsor groceries for families facing food insecurity. 

Grocery Run Club delivers groceries, fresh produce and other daily essentials to families on the Southwest Side. They also host monthly runs, drawing 20-25 people. People can sign up for a monthly membership, and organizers use the proceeds to buy food and other essentials for people in need.

Co-founders Lucy Angel and Jorge Saldarriaga launched the organization in July 2020 when they saw “a lot of need for organizations and other nonprofits to receive support.”

“We felt like we had such a great community of people that wanted to help but didn’t know how,” said Angel, who is from Little Village. “Our goal through [Grocery Run Club] was to partner with organizations throughout the city — predominantly on the Southwest Side, but we have partners all over — to provide fresh produce and everyday necessities on a consistent basis.”

Angel and ​​Saldarriaga have worked with the Pilsen Food Pantry over the past year, and they wanted to collaborate again for a run for El Día de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that honors loved ones who have died. 

For every four people who signed up, the run club is donating a week’s worth of groceries to a Pilsen family. Organizers capped the event after 80 people registered.

“We want to be culturally affirmative around all the projects that we do,” said Saldarriaga, who grew up in Portage Park and Ravenswood. “Pilsen being a predominantly Mexican neighborhood and historically a Mexican neighborhood, we wanted to do something for the community.”

RELATED: Pilsen Food Pantry Launches Fundraiser To Find A New Home, Expand Services: ‘Every Dollar Counts’

Runners will start at Pilsen’s Sleep Walk Chocolatería, 1844 S. Blue Island Ave., travel south to West Cermak Road, east to South Halsted Street and north to West 16th Street before returning to Sleep Walk.

Even with cooler temperatures on the horizon, Angel and Saldarriaga said they intend to keep the runs and services going throughout the winter.

Saldarriaga said incorporating running with their other initiatives was important to him because of the connection between food and staying active as a way to enhance people’s wellbeing, which is something he said can be underrepresented in underserved communities. 

“You consume food, it gives you energy and then it also allows you to be healthy and have this overall healthy mindset of having a well-balanced life and having access to all these resources, that when you combine them all together, it allows you to live a very healthy lifestyle,” Saldarriaga said.

Looking ahead to the holiday season, Angel and Saldarriaga said they’ve already started finalizing their holiday gift boxes.

“So much of what we focus on is immediate essentials,” Angel said. “We really try to take advantage of the holidays to go above and beyond to not just give the essentials, but to make sure that we’re bringing joy, as well.”

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