Five Ways To Fight Hunger

Every September, organizations fighting hunger come together to raise national awareness and encourage communities to take action to end hunger. 

Here are some practical ways you can take action this month. 

  1. Learn the Latest Facts About Hunger
    Food insecurity is a problem for 34 million people in the United States and 70,000 people in our 10 mile service area around The Friendship Center. 
    How many people in your community are facing hunger today? Check out Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap tool to inform yourself about food insecurity around you. 
  1. Share About People Facing Hunger With the People Around Your Table
    Engage with the people at your dinner table, whether it be your family, friends, roommates, or neighbors, about our nation’s issue with food insecurity. We’ll share insights and education on our newsletter and social platforms about people facing hunger throughout the month. 

If you have children in your household, it is important to share about people facing hunger and help them build empathy for their neighbors who are food insecure. Help your family visualize hunger by using the following prompt:

  • What does it feel like to be hungry?
  • What would you do if you couldn’t eat for a whole day? 
  • What things might be harder to do while hungry?

Work together to draw or write a story of someone who is facing hunger. If more direction is needed, ask a question, such as: How would you feel if you had to go the entire school year without breakfast or lunch?

  1. Volunteer at Your Local Food Pantry
    You can volunteer a few hours each week and play a critical role in ending hunger for your neighbors. Some volunteer activities include sorting, bagging, distribution, client intake, dinner prep, cooking, packing meals to go, and home delivery. Additionally, volunteers are needed to help work special events like the Farmer’s Market, Oktoberfestiversary, Mayfestiversary, etc. We have a role for any level of skillset and availability. 

 Sign up for volunteer opportunities at The Friendship Center on our website

  1. Organize a Food Drive
    The number of people facing hunger in our community has grown this summer. Hosting a food drive helps keep our shelves stocked with non-perishable food and hygiene supplies. The process is simple, check out our food drive toolkit to get started. 
  1. Donate to End Hunger

Our neighbors rely on your generosity and partnership to foster hope and dignity through access to food and vital resources. $50 a month can feed a family of four and this month you can double your impact* thanks to a generous matching fund from John and Erin Telford. 

*All gifts up to $3,000 will be matched.

How To Start a Food Drive

Organizing a food drive can be simple and fun. Pick out a time frame to collect donations and pick a way to motivate your community to join you. Here are some ideas on how to start one.

  • Have your community drop off donations at your home.
  • Partner with your school to be a drop-off point for donations.
    You can borrow our food drive barrels to make the collection easier. 
  • Instead of asking for birthday presents, ask for donations for your food drive. 
  • Organize a food drive with your office. 
  • Ask a local grocery store to host our food drive barrels. 
  • Ask your place of worship to collect items during the holiday season. 

There are many more creative ways to host a food drive. 

Help your community understand what types of items to donate. Here is the list of what our neighbors commonly request:

  • Rice
  • Cooking oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Soy sauce
  • Easy to cook pre-made meals
  • Canned meats
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Diapers
    Personal hygiene products

When thinking about what to donate, please keep in mind if you wouldn’t give it to a friend, we shouldn’t give it to our neighbors. 

Lastly, pick a day you can bring the donations to The Friendship Center

Here is when we are open to accept donations:
Monday: 2 – 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 3 – 7 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Thursday: 2 – 7 p.m.
Friday: 2 – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

If you have any questions before you get started, please call us at 773.907.6388 or email We cannot accept food that is left outside.

Thanks for fighting hunger by feeding your neighbors.

Download our food drive toolkit to save this information for later.

Why Does Food Rescue Matter?

“I have some crates of milk  for you that we have too much of this week .” Brandon, the milkman, at our neighborhood Mariano’s is eager to provide our neighbors with the excess stock his store receives. 

Seth, our driver, visits stores throughout the city each morning to rescue excess food. From baked bread, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, and everything in between, food rescued from grocery stores feeds our neighbors. 

Food rescue also creates a more sustainable supply chain. Grocers can forecast supply and demand at different times of the year however there is always some food that goes unsold. When stores donate fresh food and non-perishable items to The Friendship Center, they are eliminating excess food waste. 

“According to ReFED, 35% of food, or 80.6 million tons, goes uneaten or unsold in the United States – and most of that goes to waste.” (Feeding America, 2023). 

Food waste can also happen because of cosmetic issues like the item is too long, discolored, or oddly shaped, and retailers do not want to carry those items.

Additionally, the packaging could be mislabeled and missing the allergen information, so the items aren’t able to be sold in stores. Our network partner, Feeding America, is the only FDA-trusted organization with the ability to relabel food so that allergies can properly be listed and items can be donated to people facing hunger. 

Many manufacturers produce different types of products using the same machinery. It’s almost impossible to have some items not turn out correctly. For example, a plant that packages crunchy and creamy peanut butter will inevitably have a few batches that mix creamy and crunchy due to switching the type of consistency during production. Retailers do not want to carry these items as it can decrease customer satisfaction.

Cosmetic issues do not make food inedible. The network of food banks and pantries across the country can rescue these items from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers and redistribute them to the community. 

Check out this challenge from Feeding America to see if you can spot which food items would end up in a landfill instead of the grocery store. 

As a community, The Friendship Center partners with our neighborhood grocers to prevent healthy and fresh food from ending up in the trash and instead go to people who need it but cannot afford it. In the last twelve months we have rescued more than 500,000 lbs of wholesome food. To put that into perspective that is about a month of meals for 463 people! 

We are grateful to partner with Jewel #3262, Jewel #1282, Jewel #3442, Mariano’s #522, Mariano’s #515, Tony’s Fresh Market #567, Tony’s Fresh Market #1167, GoPuff #1, and Costco. We also continue to add new partnerships that will support our neighbors.

During Hunger Action Month we encourage you to fight hunger by partnering with us. $50 a month can feed a family of four and this month you can double your impact* thanks to a generous matching fund from John and Erin Telford. 

*All gifts up to $3,000 will be matched.

Rescuing Food, Nourishing Lives: The Friendship Center’s Impact in Fighting Food Waste and Food Insecurity

Food rescue is a crucial solution to tackle two pressing issues: hunger and food waste. In the United States alone, around 40% of food is wasted every year, while millions of people struggle with not having enough food. Food rescue programs such as ours collect surplus food from grocery stores, restaurants, and other sources and give it to those who need it. This helps provide nutritious meals to people facing food insecurity and prevents good food from going to waste in landfills, which harms the environment. Food rescue is not just a feel-good idea; it’s a practical way to make a positive impact on our communities and the environment.

At the heart of our food rescue efforts is our dedicated van driver, Seth. Seth is our everyday hero who tirelessly picks up food rescue from grocery stores, ensuring that no good food goes to waste. His commitment and hard work have been instrumental in our ability to collect and distribute food to those in need.

Seth begins each morning driving around in our van, stopping at various stores including Jewel, GoPuff, and Instacart. At one Mariano’s, they give us plenty of milk and eggs. At Tony’s, Seth collects bread and sandwiches to go directly to our neighbors. Seth makes almost 30 stops weekly, collecting the food that is not being otherwise sold.

Over the past 9 months, we have rescued an astounding 325,000 pounds of rescued food. This translates to over 270,000 meals for our neighbors facing hunger. It means providing fresh produce, dairy, meat, and other essential food items that can nourish and sustain those in need.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those in need and work towards a more sustainable and food-secure future. Join us at The Friendship Center as we continue to tackle food waste and food insecurity, one rescued meal at a time.

A Summer Sorter’s Experience at The Friendship Center

I started volunteering at The Friendship Center when I was four years old. My dad is a teacher, and I volunteer with him in the summer. Once COVID hit, volunteering obviously stopped, but this summer I started to look into coming back. Like a lot of places, there are age restrictions, but then I saw the Summer Sorters program on Fridays for kids 11 and up. I kinda forced my parents to sign me up! 

I immediately loved it. It combines the good feeling that comes from helping people, and organizing, which I love to do. While clients are finishing shopping, we kids are preparing and sorting other things. This includes what is going on the shelves, making boxes for home delivery the next day, organizing pet food for the third Saturday of the month Pet Food Pantry, grinding coffee, or – my favorite – peeling a scratched-up protective coating off of a steel table. (I know that last one sounds weird, but it’s great to do when you are waiting and is very satisfying!) Once the front shopping area is open, we restock the shelves with everything they need from the back, from fresh produce to food rescue pastries to toiletries and more. We end up laughing with each other by the end of the two-hour shift, even if we just met.

After a couple weeks of Summer Sorters, I asked Karen if there were other times I could help out. I filled out a volunteer form, and I’m now an official volunteer. I even helped cook dinner this month! I now sign up for shifts on their great volunteer website. You can see what shifts are open at what times and what a shift entails. 

I find volunteering – especially at The Friendship Center – to be a very rewarding experience. My parents have raised me to do my best to always help others. One thing in particular is that no matter what happens, you are in no way, shape, or form better than who you are giving a helping hand to. In a lot of cases, someone has just hit a hard time and is otherwise no different than anyone else.

I always feel good afterwards because volunteering gives me a purpose and something to focus on. In this crazy world where you can feel so helpless, it is always good to find something to ground you, that helps you ignore everything else and focus on what you are doing. And in volunteering at The Friendship Center, you know that you’re not just helping yourself but your neighbors as well.

-Cora Weiss

About the Author:

Cora is a soon-to-be 7th grader at a local elementary school. She lives in the neighborhood with her parents (her mom, Kelly, is a Friendship Center board member) and their adorable dog, Scotch.

Providing Better Support with our Partners

The most humane and effective way to get the outdoor cat population to a manageable level is through Trap- Neuter- Return (TNR) services. The Friendship Center Pet Food Pantry compliments the Tree House Humane Society’s TNR program in many ways.

Cats congregate in areas where there are resources, and many caretakers end up caring for more cats than they can support. While many colony caretakers have a hard time affording the full scope of needed care, out of deep compassion, they continue to dedicate their funds and time to help the cats they encounter. Tree House does what it can to stabilize the colony’s numbers through its no-cost, on-the-ground TNR program.

Due to the speed at which a colony of cats reproduces, the numbers can get out of hand. It is not uncommon for people to start seeing a few cats first, and then for that number to skyrocket. Sometimes, the number of actual cats in a colony is much greater than what the caretaker even realizes. There are many times where we are called onto a site with 10 cats or more! After we treat a colony to stop the chaos of quickly reproducing cats and the focus turns to the colony’s immediate care, these amazing people are often faced with a scary reality: loving the cats like their own but not having enough resources to feed them adequately.

When I volunteer at the Pet Food Pantry, I see many of those same clients I’ve worked with receiving the help The Friendship Center provides. It warms my heart to see people who I know pour their heart into the care of the cats, have a resource to turn to in difficult times. Because of programs like The Friendship Center’s Pet Food Pantry, caretakers have a place to get support and some financial relief. 

Tree House Humane Society partners with The Friendship Center by sharing pet supplies such as food, collars, beds, litter, and other essential items. With the amazing space and program at The Friendship Center, together we can assist many more pet-friendly community members than if each acted alone.  

-Olivia Radziszewski

About the author:

Olivia leads the TNR efforts at Tree House Humane Society. She has always been interested in helping and supporting animals. As well as has been a foster in many organizations in the Chicagoland area. Having worked in human services as well, she is grateful for the opportunity to bring two together by participating in programs like The Friendship Center Pet Food Pantry.