This Friday marks the end of another important week in the pivotal role Urban Growers Collective is playing in addressing food access here in Chicago during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, we have leaned on our partnerships with the organizations we used to serve with our Fresh Moves mobile market bus, while also seeking out new partnerships with organizations across the city that have a pressing need for nutritious food within the communities they serve. To date, we have delivered 2,006 bags of produce to Chicago organizations. In Hermosa we’re working with Trina Davila Community Service Center. In North Lawndale, we’re serving The Young Mens Educational Network (YMEN) and Good Samaritan Hope House of Chicago. Heading South, we’re working with Claretian Associates, Thresholds Rowan Trees, University of Chicago’s C4P program, Pride ROC and the King Center.
This week’s bag of produce contained apples, oranges, bananas, onions, carrots, russet potatoes, fresh spinach from the UGC farm, and a ½ dozen eggs. This was our first time adding eggs to our deliveries, due to the incredible donation of 250 dozen by our partner site YMEN last week. They were an egg-cellent addition to our well rounded produce bags, and we only broke two!
Beyond the fresh produce deliveries, this week was special because we expanded into culturally responsive, nutrient-dense prepared meals with the new woman, POC, and worker-owned food business called ChiFresh Kitchen. As you can see, they had a successful first week of delivering tasty food to our partner site Hope House in North Lawndale. In addition to Hope House, today will be the first day that they join us in working with Pride ROC, serving Englewood. Pride ROC will be including these prepared meals in care packages that are going out to residents. This week we’ve served 180 meals, and next week we’ll be working together to deliver 250 meals across three sites.
We’ve worked hard to pivot our Fresh Moves and Saturday Farm stand to meet the needs of Chicago residents, particularly folks of color in communities that are being hit hardest by this deadly virus. We are offering a different resource than many out there, by focusing on mostly organic, fresh produce for folks to add to their weekly meals. Diet can serve as the first line of defence in health, and we’re so happy to be supporting our community through food – as we always are. If you’d like to get your hands on some of the hyper-local produce coming from our farm, or if you would like to contribute to the funds that are allowing us to deliver all of this food at no cost to our partner sites, please check out our online store and pick up produce (no contact) on Wednesday’s or Saturdays.
This crisis has exposed inequities and systemic flaws that we’ve been working to change for years now. We hope to continue to provide the immediate relief to families, seniors, the houseless, and our program participants through this crisis. We also look forward to the end of this crisis, where our work can be celebrated as not only essential, but critical in continuing to nourish Chicago in the world that exists on the other side of COVID-19.