Beyond Hunger marked the opening of its Chicago home delivery location in the Soul City Corridor, 5317 W. Chicago Ave., with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony on April 13. The shared space is also the Chicago home of the New Moms nonprofit.
Expanding services beyond the pantry and headquarters housed at 848 Lake St. in Oak Park permanently solidifies Beyond Hunger’s ability to deliver wholesome groceries and pantry staples to housebound people in Oak Park and Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
Chicago Ald. Emma Mitts welcomed guests to the ribbon cutting ceremony coordinated by Tina Augustus, executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Deputy Mayor Sybil Madison joined Michele Zurakowski, Beyond Hunger executive director, in making remarks to honor the occasion. Eileen Lynch, chief of staff to Senator Don Harmon and Darnell Shields, executive director of Austin Coming Together were among the notable attendees. Following the ceremony guests were invited inside and assisted in packing boxes for program recipients.
“When our community reached out to us for more home-delivered groceries at the beginning of the pandemic, we responded,” said Zurakowski. “Almost overnight we transitioned from serving 80 households to nearly 300.”
After dealing with the critical needs brought on rapidly by the pandemic, Beyond Hunger worked swiftly to formalize its expanded home delivery program. A grant from the Greater Chicago Food Depository specifically targeted toward addressing food insecurity on Chicago’s south and west sides, helped make the move and expansion possible.
Staff and volunteers will assist program participants in selecting items for their monthly delivery. Vast dry storage space and expanded cold food storage capacity will allow Beyond Hunger to offer more personalized services and increased access to perishable food items to those enrolled in the program.
In addition to operating the home food delivery program in Austin, Beyond Hunger will continue to offer its twice weekly food distributions at First United Church in Oak Park serving 13 zip codes including the West Side of Chicago and Oak Park.