Breakthrough Urban Ministries Fresh Market on West Side gives dignified experience to community in need

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fresh Market pantry gives dignified experience to community in need

Just like your neighborhood grocery store, Fresh Market in East Garfield Park is breaking the mold of a traditional pantry.

The shelves are stocked daily with fresh food and produce as the Breakthrough Urban Ministries Fresh Market changes the way pantry operations are done. The goal of this evolved pantry is to give the neighborhood the dignified experience they deserve.

RELATED: Northern Illinois Food Bank Launches My Pantry Express program for online pantry shopping

"God has definitely gifted me in this area," said Fresh Market coordinator Wendy Daniels, "so I wanted to give back what was given to me but also give back in a more dignified way."

Daniels is the heartbeat of the Fresh Market. Clients know her by name and she works diligently to make sure everyone that walks through the door feels welcome.

RELATED: Share the Joy: Care For Real Food Pantry

"We are a pantry but we like to call ourselves the fresh market. So that is what we are, and it makes it unique because we do," Daniels said. "We style it that way because we really want our guests to get a super dignified experience. To feel like home, to feel like, 'Hey I'm just walking into my local grocery store.'"

Each and every week 300 plus families walk through the door with varying backgrounds from the homeless, to single and two parent households. All with the same goal to get the food they need.

"They have some good food, put it that way," Fresh Market shopper, Juanita Conwell said. "They have stuff that you don't get chance to buy because it's so expensive at the store."

RELATED: South Side food bank known as 'hugging pantry' fights food insecurity stigma with warm embraces

For Ralph Jackson, the pantry is a second home. When he is not shopping as a client, he is volunteering his time.

"Be proud of your job and that's one thing I am," Jackson said. "It's a nice, nice environment. They have good food, good coffee, good water. Breakthrough is a grateful place for the neighborhood."

According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, East Garfield Park is a high need neighborhood with almost two-thirds of residents are at risk of food insecurity.

RELATED: Northern Illinois Food Bank RX Mobile program provides healthy food to people with chronic disease

You can help families get what they need through our "Share the Joy" virtual food drive. ABC7 Chicago has partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank Greater Chicago Food Depository to give families a helping hand. If you'd like to donate, click here.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.