Throughout this difficult year, our partner Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC) helped silence the growl of hunger on the South Side. Food insecurity has long been a problem in Auburn Gresham, however, the need for food spiked during the pandemic when many people lost their jobs.
GAGDC stepped up to the plate by hosting a food stability pop-up every week from May to November. During this time, they served more than 50,000 families. Each week, residents took home fresh produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, cantaloupes and onions, as well as milk, cheese, rice, meats and non-perishables. (Watch the video below to learn more.)
This pop-up effort was possible because of GAGDC’s strong ties with its neighbors and powerful partnerships across the region.
The road to building a sustainable and strong community begins with the community members. GAGDC thrives on strong community engagement. They’ve gotten to know the needs of the community intimately over the last 20 years and have partnered with schools, business leaders and other nonprofits through United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Network Initiative to reach more families and provide a web of programs and services.
These partners — including Greater Chicago Food Depository and United Way — supported the GAGDC’s pandemic pop-up, too. GAGDC was one of 400 organizations that received a grant from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund launched by United Way and The Chicago Community Trust last spring.
“We appreciate the generous support more than ever. It’ll help us continue to deliver aid to Chicago communities, in a united and hopeful way,” said Carlos Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of GAGDC, at the time.
But the work continues! As we begin to move from pandemic response to recovery, GAGDC has a bold vision for ending food insecurity in the neighborhood — for good. In the coming months, GAGDC and its partners plan to open up a food pantry to create a safe, healthy, and stable food option for members of the community. They also plan to build a renewable energy and urban farm campus in the neighborhood, producing 26,000 pounds of food to supply a new grocery store, restaurants and a mobile market program.
You can help silence the growl of hunger in neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham. Donate to our March to Recovery campaign today! Your gift will continue to support our community partners like GAGDC as they meet basic needs like food and housing.
By Jessica Jones, AmeriCorps Multimedia Journalist | Video by Jessica Jones and Tate Samata