This time of year, Wrigley Field is typically teeming with players and fans. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this historic ballpark looks a lot different these days.
It’s instead filled with masked volunteers packing food at winding tables, storage pods filled with dry goods, and beer coolers abundant with fresh produce.
In response to this health and economic crisis, Lakeview Pantry, a United Way community partner, created the Wrigley food packing and distribution pop up site to respond to the growing need in our region.
Before COVID-19 struck our region, Lakeview Pantry served 1,200 families a week. That grew to 6,000 clients at the beginning of the state’s shutdown and has leveled off to about 5,000 in recent weeks, said Kellie O’Connell, CEO of Lakeview Pantry.
Once a month, neighbors can pick up bags of food, including fresh produce, dairy, frozen meat and dry goods. Desserts and extra goodies like salsa, condiments and desserts are also up for grabs.
Lakeview Pantry established and runs this satellite site with support from the community, the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund and the Chicago Cubs, who have also generously supported the Response Fund.
Earlier this week, United Way’s CEO & President Sean Garrett, his wife Emily and a small team of employees rolled up their sleeves to join the Lakeview Pantry team and distribute groceries to families and households.
“I was just grateful to see the amazing work of Lakeview Pantry and the Cubs,” Sean said. “Their ability to repurpose Wrigley Field as a food packing and distribution site was impressive. It was also really cool to see all the volunteers so engaged.”
Sean shared that it was a fun afternoon working alongside one of our partners and that his favorite moment was seeing the big grins on the faces of two young boys when they got an extra dessert with their food!