We have had fresh food delivered from Amazon/Whole Foods and smaller operations. The best, most economical fresh food delivery service we have discovered, however, is Top Box [topboxfoods.com].

Top Box delivers 12-15 pounds of produce to your door for $15. Delivery is contact-free, and they call before they make delivery to let you know that a box full of food will soon be arriving on your doorstep. Unlike some other services, you need order food only two days before you’d like to take delivery; with other food delivery services we’ve checked out, deliveries may arrive a week or more after ordering. Also unlike some other services, with the Top Box vegetable boxes (the “Produce Variety Combo”), you receive whatever is fresh and available; you do not order exactly what you want (I kind of like this; you get a surprise box of stuff and get to try things you may not have thought to buy for yourself). With proteins, you can specify that you want fish, seafood, pork chops, chicken breasts, or various beef cuts.

The past week’s delivery was amazing. For our $15, we seemed to have received somewhat more than fifteen pounds of fruit and vegetables, including about three pounds each of apples and potatoes, two big bunches of collards, two nice-looking zucchini, just-about-ripe avocados, cherry tomatoes and corn.  Surprisingly, in the box were four Starbucks-branded Rice Krispy treats, which I suspect were donated by the Starbucks organization.

Top Box teams up with corporate sponsors, local churches, and other community organizations to fund and deliver the goods. Volunteers seem to make up a sizeable portion of the workforce for this not-for-profit.

Top Box delivers throughout Cook County (including Oak Park); they have several different kinds of boxes available. We went with the veg-forward box, but they have meat, fish, and seafood packages as well as special packages for folks with medical conditions, like diabetes.

Top Box usually drops off boxes at local churches or other community centers, but during this pandemic they’re making home deliveries. On the Top Box site, it’s explained that after volunteers drop off the boxes at your doorstep, they “watch from the sidewalk to ensure everyone gets their boxes with appropriate social distancing.

The Top Box delivery model reduces crowds in the grocery store lines, and it helps limit the number of people sharing grocery carts.

Top Box focuses on the underserved, like those in food deserts, so I had some reservations about getting this service because there are certainly many people who are truly in need in other parts of Cook County. The Top Box site, however, assures that “Each person who buys a box helps expand the Top Box Foods community, which increases purchasing power and savings.”

You can also support Top Box by volunteering to help and by making donations.

Order from Top Box by going to their site at topboxfoods.com or by calling 312.527.7890. You pay in advance with a credit card or on delivery with a check, cash, or SNAP card via Link.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...