Lakeview Pantry acquires food for client distribution in a number of ways. Much of it is purchased from the Greater Chicago Food Depository [45%]. Other sources include group-sponsored food drives and drop-offs from neighbors. Lakeview Pantry is very fortunate to enjoy a variety of food resources, but its primary means of meeting the constant demand for food is food rescue.
What, exactly, is food rescue? Lakeview Pantry has formed relationships with several area grocers and has committed to removing food items that are approaching their guaranteed freshness dates or shelf life. In order to free inventory space for newer items, management removes the soon to be expired items from display shelves and prepares them for removal. That’s where Lakeview Pantry comes in! The Pantry literally rescues those perfectly good fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and breads from being wasted, and everything is immediately dispersed to waiting clients—hence the term, food rescue.
“As soon as we pick it up, it goes out our door,” explains Outreach Assistant, Andy Dearing.
A typical day of food rescue starts with the Food Rescue team, which includes Andy; Carrie McCormack, West Site Coordinator; Greg Nergaard, East Pantry Coordinator; Elizabeth McFadden, West Assistant; and Lothar Greski, Community Outreach Coordinator. Team members travel to neighborhood grocery stores six days a week to rescue tons of food items. On a particular Monday morning, Lothar and Andy made a rescue run at the Whole Foods on Halsted and at the Trader Joe’s on Diversey. The team has developed a strong rapport with all the stores and their management teams.
The Whole Foods stop yielded a huge assortment of food for immediate placement into the lobby at Lakeview Pantry. The donation was a beautiful and generous supply of produce—including grapes, apples, onions, pumpkins, and squash—canned and dry goods, bread, and a small supply of meats. Then it was on to Trader Joe’s. Since each food rescue partner has come to regularly expect the Pantry crew, the team of store associates had already placed most the day’s allotment in the loading area. Not only was there an enormous supply of meat, produce and bread, but there was the regular collection of flowers that are offered to all Lakeview Pantry clients. The Trader Joe’s collection was added to the van, and it was filled to capacity.
The rescue mission for that day amounted to 2,000 pounds—one ton of direct assistance to neighbors in need!
In the last five months, demand for food and services has increased. In an average week, nearly 750 clients pass through Lakeview Pantry’s doors and 30,000 pounds of food is distributed. Lakeview Pantry is grateful for—and relies on—its food rescue partners and their generous support in helping the community.