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CHICAGO — For 20 years of her life she was in the cockpit of a DC-9 as a Navy pilot, but these days Carol Leffler’s mission is to serve veterans who once served their country by making sure they have food on the table.

“If you look at that line of veterans lining up for our food pantry and see the hungry faces, it’s heart-wrenching,” Leffler said. “What people don’t realize is I may have 200 people in line but they all have families, so I’m serving 2,500 mouths a day.”

On Tuesdays, Carol and her team of volunteers transform the hallway at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center into a pop-up food pantry. Veterans line up hours before the pantry even opens.

Through a partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, hundreds of veterans go home with nearly two weeks worth of food. Most come with rolling suitcases to fill with the fresh fruit, vegetables and meat that will feed them for over a week.

“I give enough food away that they can’t carry it!” Leffler said.

Carol and her team making certain no veteran walks away empty handed or hungry, and that even back at home, no soldier is left behind.