Chicago food pantries like Nourishing Hope are seeing higher demand as holidays approach

Leah Hope Image
Monday, November 21, 2022
Food pantry demand increases as holidays near
EMBED <>More Videos

Food pantries are dealing with increased demand as the holidays approach, and are making creative substituion decisions as they also struggle with the effects of inflation.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Food pantries in Chicago and around the country are trying to keep up with rising food costs and rising demand as the holidays approach.

"We try not to come if we don't absolutely need it," said Angelica Lopez, who was lined up outside Nourishing Hope on North Sheridan. "We know others who need it more than us, so we try to come if we absolutely need it."

Lopez said her mom was injured on a new job and then fired, and so the family of five is now depending on one income instead of two.

"We're sometimes a little too proud to go ask for that extra hand, but it's there. Sometimes you have to look for it and take that first action of going," she said.

The food pantry is trying to make substitutions to keep up with demand while also grappling with rising food costs. The non-profit welcomes volunteers and donations.

"Seven thousand folks just this year that have had to turn to a food pantry for the first time, largely because they are needing to make tough decisions like am I going to be pay rent this month or put food on my table," said Kellie O'Connell, CEO of Nourishing Hope.

On some days, Nourishing Hope offers express, pre-packaged food distribution while on Tuesday and Wednesday it has hours where clients can choose the items that are best for their families at both their Lakeview and Humboldt Park locations.

Ashley Harris visited for the first time Monday. She's been caring for her mother, which means she hasn't been able to work as many hours.

"The cost of chicken or beef, it's out of control and I just can't afford that," she said.

Harris said she had seen people leaving with food and now wanted to see for herself. She was given choices at every step. She said it was a new experience and one she's glad she tried so that she and her mother can be a bit more comfortable this holiday.

"I'm just grateful we are together, that we are above ground and we do have food on the table thanks to Nourishing Hope," she said.