Covid-19 Emergency Food Relief

When the Covid-19 outbreak began, we worked quickly with partner organizations to activate an emergency food relief Squad.

The Covid-19 crisis has most heavily impacted Black and brown communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Our mission has always been to provide the city’s most vulnerable with healthy, healing food, but through the Covid-19 pandemic this work has become more important than ever. Our Fresh Moves team has pivoted from their usual operations to focus on our emergency food relief efforts. We have grown and distributed nutrient-dense produce as well as coordinated and delivered culturally-affirming meals to communities most in need. Between these produce boxes and prepared meals, over one million pounds of food has been donated.

We’re incredibly grateful for all of the funders that have supported our Squad approach, which employs on-the-ground collaborations (“Squads”). These Squads directly support BIPOC-led organizations and allow them to safely grow, process, prepare, and distribute high quality, nutritious meals and produce boxes to folks in need. Unlike other Covid-19 relief efforts, our Squad approach meets the immediate needs of communities while also creating opportunities for these organizations to expand their operations. By supporting these BIPOC-led businesses, we can not only provide emergency food to Black and brown communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we can continue to work towards building a more equitable Chicago food system.

As of October 1, 2020, we've donated:

13,260

boxes of fresh produce

6,400

pounds of produce from our farms

12,775

prepared meals

1,000,000

pounds of emergency food

UGC proudly partners with food businesses that are Black-, Indigenous-, or People-of-Color-operated to provide folks in need with culturally-affirming and nutritious meals. These meals are especially important in providing food to those who are not able to prepare food due to housing status, culinary skill, or time constraints. Our prepared meal partners are:

ChiFresh Kitchen

Launched on May 11, 2020, ChiFresh is a worker cooperative owned by formerly incarcerated folks—primarily Black women—from the South and West sides of Chicago. They offer fresh, wholesome, culturally relevant meals to Chicagoland institutions.

Cooperativa Visionarias

An immigrant-women-run catering cooperative on the Southeast side of Chicago, Cooperativa Visionarias caters for community events, non-profits, city offices, fairs, and more across Chicago. Las Visionaries were incubated by Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (the United Workers Center, CTU), an immigrant and workers rights organization also local to the Southeast side.

Majani

A vegan restaurant and catering service dedicated to building and nourishing community through innovative plant-based dishes, Majani bases their soulful vegan cuisine in the Pullman and South Shore neighborhoods. They began prepared meal donations June 20, 2020.

To supplement produce from UGC farms, we’ve also partnered with Midwest Foods, a woman-owned and family-run produce distributor located in the Brighton Park neighborhood in Chicago. We are proud to play our part in supporting American agriculture as an essential part of the food supply chain.

UGC initially started with outreach to the organizations we partner with for our Fresh Moves Mobile Market pop up farmers’ markets. These organizations include health centers, schools, senior centers, and other social service agencies. Our partners collected information from the people they served to identify individuals and households most at need. Many of the people identified fall into demographics that are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, including those who have disabilities, are immunocompromised, experience homelessness or are unstably housed, are homebound, aging adults, undocumented individuals, people who have had contact with the justice system, and domestic violence survivors.

 

As our Fresh Moves team transitioned into emergency food distribution, our produce donations have been distributed weekly to over 2000 residents at our partner sites, including:

  • Thresholds South
  • Thresholds Rowan Trees
  • Howard Brown Health
  • Near North Health
  • Martin Luther King Center
  • Claretian Associates
  • Heartland Alliance
  • Pride ROC
  • UofC Medicine C4P
  • Stone Temple Missionary Baptist Church
  • New Life Covenant Church Southeast
  • The Scentuary
  • American Indian Center
  • Academy for Global Citizenship
  • READI Chicago
  • Boxville
  • Hope House
  • Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
  • Eden’s Place
  • African American Women Construction Trades
  • Institiuo Del Progresso Latino
  • Academy for Global Citizenship
  • Claretian Associates

Additional resources for those in need:

Latino Policy Forum Resource Page

Greater Chicago Food Depository