As food pantries see high demand, others step up to meet the need ahead of Thanksgiving

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Hours-long lines at food giveaways across Illinois show how the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the economy, leaving more people in need this holiday season.

On a typical Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army would serve a sit down dinner for thousands of people in Chicago. But this year, they organized a pandemic-friendly, contact-free distribution of hot meals from the Freedom Center’s parking lot.

“It’s very difficult right now; some families, they’re just making it week to week,” said the Salvation Army’s Major Nancy Powers. “We are excited to be trying something very different.”

Levy Restaurants donated the food which was prepared by Salvation Army chefs and handed to families who stopped by the Freedom Center.

It’s a Thanksgiving like no other, but people are coming together to help each other.

A partnership between Ashley Eats and the Corner Store Deli in Austin, Dan’s Soul Food & Cafe in Ashburn, and the group One Fair Wage produced hundreds of hot meals for those in need Wednesday. Organizers also called for better pay for restaurant workers.

“We as a people have to work together collectively, said Dolphn Norris, Dan’s Soul Food and Cafe. “Every day is Thanksgiving at Dan’s.”

In a time of change, loss, isolation and so much need, people are responding with open hands and hearts all across Chicago and Illinois.

City leaders and the owners of Two Chefs restaurant handed out 1,500 meals to families in Bensenville.

At Saint Sabina Church, volunteers were busy working together Wednesday, giving away another 500 boxes of food to the community.

And a steady stream of people continued to stop by the Lakeview Pantry, where CEO Kellie O’Connell said they’ve seen the demand for food jump 200% from this time last year.

“People are needing to turn to a food pantry for the first time, so many people have lost their jobs,” O’Connell said.

Chance The Rapper’s SocialWorks gave away more than 1,000 turkeys to families in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday as well.

“People need love right now and they need to feel Thanksgiving,” the rapper said Tuesday. “We’re still out here, we’re still trying to connect with people and still trying to get people the resources they need.”

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