CHICAGO -- Winter storms put an extra burden on homeless shelters that are often already at capacity.
The Chicago Shares Voucher program hopes to put a dent in the number of people left hungry and out in the cold.
"When you see someone and they ask that age old question 'Can you spare some change so I can get something to eat?'” program volunteer Ron Polaniecki said. "Chicago Shares Vouchers is the answer."
The vouchers are different than dropping money in a cup because the vouchers can only be cashed in for food or necessities.
"Because they cannot be used for alcohol or tobacco, I think that makes people who want to be generous feel more comfortable giving it out, knowing that,” Polaniecki said.
Since the program launched in 1993, dozens of grocery stores and restaurants have joined in including six Jewel locations, a handful of Subway restaurants and other Loop spots.
Max Kahn, owner of Max's Take Out, was one of the first to accept the vouchers downtown. "They are very appreciative because they're getting a hot meal,” he said. “We saw many of those vouchers cashed in since December. If we can help them in a positive way - it's a win win."
If you are interested in knowing more or purchasing vouchers online, head to chicagoshares.org.