Address food insecurity in Chicago and its near-west suburbs.
Beyond Hunger’s mission is to harness the power of communities to end hunger.
Beyond Hunger is dedicated to ensuring that every person in our community knows where their next meal is coming from. Prior to COVID, the number of individuals experiencing food insecurity was decreasing in our area and approaching levels not seen since prior to the global recession in 2008. Because of COVID and resulting job losses, however, the need for direct hunger relief in our community has surged. We are currently serving approximately 40% more people than usual across all programs and anticipate providing direct hunger relief to approximately 12,000 people in the coming year. They are teacher’s aides, crossing guards, fast food workers—and their children. They are talented, dynamic people who have worked all their lives, but who face an impoverished retirement. Despite their level of education or work ethic, they come to us because their incomes do not support their basic need for food. We provide a bridge to stability that would not otherwise exist for them.
Funding from State Farm will allow us to keep pace with the growing need for immediate hunger relief in our community caused by COVID by increasing our operational flexibility. This, in turn, will allow us to best respond to community needs as the situation evolves by continuing to provide the most nutritious products we can procure from produce wholesalers, food rescue partners, the USDA, donations, and subsidized purchases from our regional food bank. Food pantry distributions are offered twice a week, providing shoppers in an average-sized household with approximately 70 lbs. of food per visit, including approximately 20 lbs. of fresh produce. Home delivery brings groceries from the food pantry shelves to the doorstep of those who are unable to attend a distribution. This program has tripled in size since the onset of COVID, and additional funding will help us maintain the program expansion.
Beyond Hunger utilizes a model that emphasizes cross-disciplinary, well-coordinated partnerships that prioritize meeting immediate needs while linking clients to extended services for long-term food security. As we negotiate the COVID and post-COVID landscape, a focus on long-term solutions is critical. With support from State Farm, we will continue to counsel clients who need assistance securing the government benefits for which they are eligible. We will also guide them to other social services that can help them achieve a healthier lifestyle. Simultaneously, we will continue to seek to concomitantly solve the problems of food waste and food insecurity in our community through robust food rescue programs that divert usable food from the waste stream and into the hands of those who need it most - a system that promotes the sustainability of personal and environmental health. These efforts meaningfully contribute to our goal of creating a hunger free community.