Chicago chefs 'Fight2Feed' thousands of needy families, using McCormick Place's East Kitchen, donated items and rescued food

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Fight2Feed: Chicago chefs use donated items, rescued food at McCormick Place's East Kitchen to cook up thousands of meals for families in need
On what's called Serving Tuesday, local chefs from Fight2Feed come together to cook meals for people in need at the unused East Kitchen at Chicago's McCormick Place.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chefs from across Chicago are joining forces to feed thousands of families in need.

The non-profit Fight2Feed is utilizing kitchen space provided by McCormick Place to expand its reach and help even more people.

"I pretty much look at what we get and all the ingredients we receive and make meals out of them," said Chef Jeffrey Benzon.

On what's called Serving Tuesday, local chefs from Fight2Feed come together to cook meals for people in need.

"It's really about us doing our job as humans to take care of other humans and for us it's kind of like why not," said Fight2Feed founder and CEO Jiwon McCartney.

They've gone from feeding roughly 1,500 people a month before the pandemic, to that many in one week.

"There's certainly a market for people who are going to need that food, but don't necessary have access to it," said Phil Siddu, Fight2Feed Community Resource Director.

McCartney, who is also the creator of the national cooking competition Culinary Fight Club, says her group uses donated items and rescued food to create the meals.

"We're rescuing a little over a 100,000 pounds of food a week now and preparing 10,000 meals a week now, that's a lot of food ," said Fight2Feed president Marc Wuenschel.

The group had been using kitchens at various restaurants around the city but now during the pandemic, has a temporary home at the unused East Kitchen at McCormick Place.

"When shows do come back, it will help us facilitate getting more food back out to the community, when we have leftover food on our big shows," said McCormick Place Culinary Vice President Doug Bradley

The group has expanded to also supplying food pantries and shelters after their first effort was to help out struggling restaurant workers.

The group said they hope to be able to continue to meet the need and hope as well that this effort will become an example for other communities as they try to fight hunger.