CHICAGO — Saturday was a busy day in Ravenswood as volunteers gather groceries and load up to deliver on this cold weekend before Christmas.
“We want to make sure that people have a nutritional mix of protein, dairy, produce, shelf-stable items,” Nourishing Hope CEO Kellie O’Connell said.
For more than 50 years, what was once Lakeview Pantry, serving just one neighborhood, has grown with time into Nourishing Hope.
It’s providing food and now mental health care throughout the City of Chicago.
“We know about one in three folks don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal from and so we provide about two weeks worth of groceries,” O’Connell said. “Our volunteers and our team pack groceries for folks who can’t come pick them up and deliver them.”
Allison Ritchie made those deliveries as a volunteer for nearly five years.
“I deliver to the same building,” Ritchie said. “I’ve been going there about three years now so I get to know the people as well. So there’s a very strong sense of community with the pantry.”
So far this year, Nourishing Hope has seen a huge increase in need. They’re making 850 deliveries a month and seeing more than 55,000 visits to their four locations.
That’s a 40% jump over last year.
“Hearing the need before I came here, hearing the need for food and the inability to access food, now to be a part of actually giving the food, it’s been really meaningful,” Eva Trampka, Nourishing Hope’s home delivery north manager, said. “It’s really changed my life, especially when I do deliveries and get to hear the thank yous. It really means a lot.”
For Ritchie and the other volunteers, it’s the thank yous, especially on a cold December day, that warms her heart.
“It’s your way to give back and help people with food insecurity,” Ritchie said. “And it is a great sense of community. It’s more than just giving back, it’s truly a family here.”