On March 30, the University of Chicago launched the first stage of an effort to provide emergency support and address some of the immediate needs of local residents, businesses and community-based nonprofits on the South Side as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Through UChicago’s Partnering for Community Impact initiative, the UChicago Dining team will provide at least 225,000 meals over the course of 10 weeks (a minimum of 3,000 meals per day) to South Side residents through use of the University’s existing infrastructure and an investment of $1 million in food through direct funding and philanthropy.
Executive Chefs Wendy Gonzalez and Charlie Brown, Catering Director Jen Kozy, Directors of Operation Jori Orsini and Jeff Dahms, and more than 170 others are using the Bon Appétit Commissary and Bartlett Dining Commons to prepare and package from 3,000 to 5,000 meals every morning, following strict public health and safety protocols regarding social distancing and sanitation. They are distributed in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to various locations within the University’s nine community footprint on the South Side.
The effort has been well-received. “We were able to feed over 350 families who came through our Food Pantry line. I was also able to bring meals to some homeless individuals living in the community. I am grateful for this opportunity to help bring healthy food to our neighbors,” emailed Father Matthew O’Donnell at St. Columbanus’s food pantry. “Thanks to everyone who had a hand in this!”
“Our team has embraced their current roles as essential employees in response to the new demands with enthusiasm and grace,” said Resident District Manager Kris Murray. “I am so proud of what we are able to do thanks to the university’s generosity.”