Hyde Park & Kenwood Hunger Programs
It is the mission
of the Hyde Park & Kenwood Hunger Programs
to provide free and nutritious food to residents in need
without prejudice or discrimination
through the Community Food Pantry and Open Kitchen
The Food Pantry is housed at Hyde
Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.
It is open every Saturday (including Christmas and New Years Day) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It serves individuals and families living between Cottage Grove Ave. on the west, Lake Michigan on the east, 39th St. on the north, and 60th St. on the south. To receive food you must live within the boundaries and be able to prove it, must not come more often than once in 4 weeks, must have proper ID for everyone in the household, and must maintain proper decorum. The pantry has no requirements as to income or religious affiliation, nor is anyone required to state income in order to receive food (except to certify eligibility for USDA food).
The Soup Kitchen is housed at Kenwood United Church of Christ, 4608 S. Greenwood Ave. It provides free lunches between noon and 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
How Are They Staffed?
Both hunger programs are staffed by volunteers. At the Food Pantry, a volunteer coordinator, Jan Deckenbach, signs contacts with food donors such as federal agency programs, orders the food each month, oversees volunteers, and helps with pre-opening setup on Saturday mornings. Food packing and distribution is done by volunteers from the neighborhood, many of them members of Hyde Park and Kenwood congregations, or from the University of Chicago. To volunteer you may phone Hyde Park Union Church at 363-6063.
The Soup Kitchen is also staffed by volunteers, under the leadership of Rev. Leroy Sanders. Four congregations cook in their own church kitchens or, in the case of Rockefeller Chapel, on site at the Soup Kitchen, each providing a hot meal for one day a month. The other four meals per week are prepared at the Soup Kitchen by 15 regular volunteers who also come from congregations in the area. To volunteer you may phone Kenwood United Church of Christ at 373-2861.
Administration and Funding
The Hunger Programs are administered by the staff of Hyde Park Union Church, under the auspices of its Section 501(c )3 status with IRS, with oversight by its Board. A Community Advisory Committee meets quarterly to assist in publicity, fund raising, and program direction. From 1981 to the fall of 2007 the hunger programs were administered by the Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council.
The Hunger Programs' annual $110,000 budget goes largely to the purchase of food and supplies such as paper goods. The programs' most visible fundraising effort is the offering taken at the Community Thanksgiving Service held each year at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and organized by the Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council. However, that covers only one-tenth of the operating budget of the programs. The balance comes from the contributions of caring neighbors, from local congregations, and from in-kind contributions and generous discounts from local businesses.
The food itself comes from a variety of sources: the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and also includes federal government food subsidies such as USDA food surplus distributions, and food for those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, plus occasional donations from neighborhood block clubs, elementary schools, local congregations, and in-kind donations from local merchants. These donations are supplemented by wholesale food purchases. The tightening economy, greater efficiency in tracking and restocking supplies, and changes in USDA programs have changed the availability of surplus food, and more of the food distributed by the Hunger Programs must be purchased.
How Can I Help?
Cash contributions are gratefully received throughout the year. The Hyde Park and Kenwood Hunger Programs receive an outpouring of welcome support during November and December, but the need to eat is year round. Because of the generous discounts local merchants make available to the Hunger Programs, plus our practice of purchasing food at wholesale rather than retail rates, cash contributions to the Hunger Programs go further than groceries purchased and donated individually. However, donations of nonperishable foods that could be easily prepared by a family with a limited kitchen, and which have not expired, are also welcome. Also needed are paper goods; because Kenwood United Church of Christ does not have a restaurant grade sanitation system, they cannot use washable dishes, and paper plates and serving items are an ongoing expense. To make a cash contribution please follow this link: http://www.hpuc.org/Other/HungerPrograms.html
Personal hygiene products (soaps and other toiletries, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste) often are not part of the budget of people in need of food and may not be purchased with food stamps. They are necessary to a healthy quality of life, however, and may affect peoples' ability to look for work and children's comfort in going to school. The Hunger Programs are increasingly taking the opportunity to distribute such products.
Used clothing that is still wearable
is always welcome. Rev. Sanders says that clients of the Soup Kitchen often
come early to take a shower and change to fresh clothing donated to the church.
Warm winter clothing and clothing in good condition that could be worn to apply
for a job or to go to work would be particularly welcome.