Free N Deed food pantry in Dolton gives clients a grocery store experience

DOLTON, Ill. (WLS) -- There's a new market of sorts in Dolton. Free N Deed Market opened in 2021 at the corner of 142nd and Chicago Road, a food pantry with a client choice model.

"It really comes from the scripture, 'Who the son sets free is free indeed,'" said Nicole Scott, founder. "We wanted to give people liberty and give them dignity in their shopping experience."

Years ago, Scott was a single mom with a doctorate in education and working full time. But she still needed help, and went to food pantries to get it.

"When I had to go, there was shame to it. There was a stigma, an embarrassment. And I didn't want that," she said.

So she created the American Association of Single Parents to support others, but during the pandemic she saw the needs grow. A grant from the Greater Chicago Food Depository allowed Scott to lease the Dolton space.

"Free N Deed was actually the result of one of our equity grants," said Megan Bennett, Greater Chicago Food Depository. "Since the start of the pandemic, the Food Depository has distributed over $9 million to food pantries across our network, including new food pantries."

"Without this, groceries would be more than I could afford to pay for," said Robert Jackson, client.

Some clients said they feel like customers at a regular grocery store at Free N Deed, fortifying not just their bodies but also their spirits. Jackson brought his sister Thursday; both are retirees on fixed incomes.

"When he told me about it, I was very excited," Barbara Jackson said. "I told him, you have to take me there, I have to go."

"It means the world to me, I'm like a kid in a candy store, shopping for my family, making sure I pick the right foods for nutrition," said Robert Jackson.

"Not only does it cut down on waste, but it does restore dignity and pride to people," Scott said.

Free N Deed is open Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Scott welcomes donations so they can continue to offer support to families still struggling.
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