Feed the Love: Bronzeville church feeds neighbors in need this holiday season

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The need in our communities is at an all-time high. In some areas, one in six people are without the food they need.

That's why the Bread of Life Food Pantry at the Chosen Tabernacle church in Bronzeville was born.

Every Thursday, the alleyway behind the church is full of cabbage, potatoes, meat, canned goods and a handful of volunteers dedicated to serving their neighbors.

"Someone has to step up and do it and if not me, who. If not now, when?" said Pastor Sandra Gillespie, director of the food pantry. "The primary focus for me is not just giving out the food but we got to give them grace and mercy. Sometimes people come and they need a word of encouragement."

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Pastor Sandy's mission is simple - to feed her community. With the help of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, she had the food to meet her goal - but she needed volunteers.

So she and her team called on the community to help. The University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration answered.

"If she says move this box from A to B, I'm the one who goes and gets it," said volunteer Myles Francis.

For the past 8 months, young adults like Francis have been filling those empty volunteer positions, doing whatever was needed.
"We shifted a lot of our staff that was supporting us with data collection and a lot of that work toward distributing basic stuff like PPE, food, and distributing all of those things in a safe way," Francis said.

All of those distributions, benefiting people like Bronzeville resident Beverly Varnado.

"I live in the neighborhood and I've been coming to the pantry for a couple of years myself," Varnado said. "Pastor Sandy makes sure that the clients that come to her pantry have the necessities to feed their families once they go home. Everybody's out of work, there's no money coming in, we need these food pantries."

Pastor Sandy plans to continue serving neighbors outside the church, even as the weather gets colder.

"We've got to keep moving, we've got to continue to meet the need," Pastor Sandy said.

You can help Feed the Love by donating to our virtual food drive.

If you're in need of food, you can call 773-247-FOOD or click here to locate a food pantry near you.
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