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 Mission Statement

The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry was established in 2019. The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry is organized for charitable, food security, nutritional education, and dissemination of information regarding where to find available resources for housing, healthcare, and other human services.

The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry serves as a source of nutritional assistance in the Woodlawn Area to reduce stress in the community regarding the availability of food to families, children, and senior citizens. We focus on distributing healthier food options to our community’s clients with fresh produce, healthy proteins such as meats, fish, and poultry along with low sodium and low sugar canned goods. We provide nutritional education materials and demonstrations on how to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal. Nutritional education along with healthier diets will result in reduced incidents of diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease in the communities we serve.

 Creation Story

The community in which the Woodlawn Community Food Pantry operates is a food desert.  Wikipedia defines a food desert as a geographic area where access to affordable, healthy food options are limited or nonexistent because grocery stores are too far away. This is a problem residents in Woodlawn are experiencing. The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry is committed to doing something about the problem.

Representatives of the Woodlawn Community Food Pantry/Edward G. Irvin Foundation met with representatives of the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) to discuss the possibility of opening a food pantry.  The GCFD stated that they were not partnering with any organizations at that time, but they were willing to make an exception for the members of the Edward G. Irvin Foundation (EGIF).  The GCFD representatives stated that most of their partners were church based, and they had never partnered with a group of African American men however, the reputation of the Edward G. Irvin Foundation was enough to convince them that we would be successful. The GCFD representatives came out to our facility to inspect the premises and to offer suggestions.

Our Food Pantry Committee representatives toured existing food pantries at several locations to get a sense of what would be needed and the best practices for establishing and operating our program.  We partnered with The Greater Chicago Food Depository to establish a Mobile Produce Distribution Program. The program was to run for 12 months with a goal to open a food pantry at the EGIF facility in August 2020.  The Mobile Produce Distribution program operated the fourth Saturday every month.  The first distribution was in August 2019. The Mobile Produce Distribution and Food Pantry is staffed by volunteers from the Chicago Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and the community.

Our first community produce pantry brought out 279 clients which equated to feeding over 1100 individuals. The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry hosted produce distributions from August 2019 to September 2020. During this period, we served no less than 250 households per month, feeding over 800 individuals per event. 

The Mobile Produce Distribution closed for several months during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Recognizing the additional burden, Covid-19 pandemic placed on the Woodlawn community the decision was made by the pantry committee to distribute Face Mask and provide a mobile testing facility beginning with the June distribution and continuing going forward, if necessary, once per month.

On Monday, January 18, 2021, the monthly Woodlawn Community Mobile Produce Distribution transitioned to the weekly Woodlawn Community Food Pantry.  The pantry committee based our traffic goals using our produce distribution client counts which averaged 300 per month.  Using that number, we set a goal of 75 clients per week in a 4-week month.  As word of the pantry spread our traffic began to increase from and average of 30 clients per week during January and Feburary to an average of 50 client visits per week by June 2021.  The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry received recognition from the GCFD for remaining open and serving the community without incident during the height of the pandemic.  Client counts increased again during June, July, and August.  We met our goal of 75 clients per week during the July pantry distributions servicing 80 families per week.  Our client counts are now 80 families per week, feeding 320 individuals.  We have now set our sights on servicing 100 families per week.

The pantry committee’s growth strategy is expansion of services through collaborations with other organizations. To that end we have formed a collaboration with the University of Illinois Chicago through their Office of Community Engagement & Neighborhood Health Partnerships. They will be assisting us with community outreach and providing recipe cards for our clients as well as speaking with them about nutritional health.  UI Health also provides the food pantry with a nutritionist to speak with our clients bi-weekly and offer recipes, and samples of simple healthy dishes prepared with nutritious vegetables and fruits not usually included in our clients diets.

We also collaborated with CHICAT, Chicago Center for Arts &Technology.  The students at CHICAT created our pantry logo and video recorded and edited our initial cooking demonstration. 

The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry and UChicago Medicine have collaborated on community health initiatives including a Covid-19 Vaccination event and with the National Kidney Foundation to provide free Kidney Screening to Woodlawn and surrounding communities.   
The Woodlawn Community Food Pantry has become an important link in the Woodlawn community's food chain.  We will continue to provide food security and other vital community services.

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