Families Receive Fresh Produce at Chicago Lawn Food Pantries

For nearly a decade, The Salvation Army Chicago Lawn Corps Community Center has been a beacon of hope for those in Chicago’s southwest Lawn and West Lawn communities. The corps community center holds a weekly food pantry where staff and volunteers distribute canned fruits and vegetables, breads, snack items, frozen meats and other non-perishable items to more than 150 families each month.

Additionally, with help from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the corps community center launched a mobile food pantry which distributes fresh produce on a weekly basis. Recipients can select from a wide variety of seasonal items including berries, oranges, greens and more. This distribution program has grown substantially, now serving approximately 200 families each month.

“These fresh items really provide additional nutrition for our families, but are costly and can take a huge chunk out of their grocery budget,” said Captain Antonio Romero, Chicago Lawn corps officer. “We are pleased that we can help families access healthier food without compromising their finances.”

According to Captain Romero, there is a constant need for food in the community. He points out that some residents live at or below the poverty level, while others have exhausted their savings and benefits. Keeping up with medical bills, rising utility costs and other expenses can sometimes only be done by sacrificing the food budget. Often families visit both pantries.

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“I would like to think the groceries we provide are supplemental,” says Captain Romero, “but they are sometimes critical.” He notes that it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish our needs from our wants, but not when it comes to food. “When you’re hungry, you’re hungry,” he says.

Occasionally a client will be overjoyed when a specific food item they have not been able to obtain on their own shows up in the mobile pantry’s mix. Romero recalls one woman’s excitement at the arrival of a supply of eggplants, which her doctor had said would provide nutrients that benefit her medical condition.

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Matilde D. discovered The Salvation Army and its pantry programs when she moved into the community with her husband and three children. “This is a great help for my family,” she says. “It helps us reduce grocery expenses enough to cover needs that might otherwise not be met. My husband has less of a burden to worry about.”

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Daniel Solis, who is disabled, also relies on both pantries to provide enough food for himself, his wife and their son. He says his one disability assistance check a month must cover rent, lights, school and medical costs, and calls the mobile food pantry a Godsend. “Every little bit helps,” he says. “My family gets a meal every night with fresh produce – bananas, peppers, onions, watermelon.”

Captain Romero praises the community for being supportive “We are grateful to our volunteers and donors who help make sure our neighbors don’t go hungry.”

For more information on the Chicago Lawn Corps Community Center and all programs, please visit salarmychicago.org/chicagolawn or call 773.434.0488.

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