New Pantry Friends on the Southside

Friendship Center volunteer Bonnie Tawse (above, with her friend Elizabeth) got involved with the Free Street Theater because of her son, Sam, and when the pandemic hit, they launched a pop-up pantry (or, as they call it, an “alt-pantry”) at the Storyfront Theater location in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

They are working hard to reach underserved communities in their area with an innovative approach and a lot of grassroots energy, but they don’t have the same access to bulk food resources as we do.

Because of our committed network of supporters, sometimes we actually have a surplus of certain grocery items. When this happens, we “resource-share” with neighboring food pantries to make sure nothing goes to waste. In this case, we were able to send items to a part of the city that really needed the help, and support them as they build and grow their own much-needed food pantry.

It’s a Grind!

coffee mug with heart
Photo by March Verch (cc)

During COVID, we were getting LOTS of coffee donations due to a citywide drop in demand at coffee shops. Usually, these donations are 5-lb bags of whole beans. Grinding down the beans and parceling them out into Ziploc bags was a major project, and we’ve been borrowing equipment from local coffee shops to get the job done.

Luckily for us, our friends at Beans & Bagels offered to convert their loan of a commercial coffee grinder into a donation! We now own our very own grinder, and the place smells great on “grind day” when we parcel out all of the donated coffee for our clients. Thanks, Beans & Bagels!