Volunteers distribute groceries to South Side residents in need after looting amplifies food desert concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Volunteers on Chicago's South Side are bundling donated groceries to help Chicagoans in need.

"We got rice and we got beans we got oranges we got apples," said Christopher LeMark, founder of Coffee, Hip Hop & Mental Health.

LeMark is running the food drive through his organization in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

The activist said hunger and poor mental health are inextricably linked, especially during these unprecedented times.

"When people already been in the house for three to four months, then they deal with all the fears and shootings and the community is triggered, and you're already living in a situation without food and resources, people are angry," LeMark said.

Part of his solution is through grocery bags put together at Mariano's with donations, which LeMark says come from all over the country.

"We want to empower people, get them jobs. [We] want to educate them, loving them," he said.

Volunteers have been loading up cars in the Bronzeville parking lot and making deliveries into the neighborhoods.

"To the nursing homes, to the seniors -- people who wanted to register but they don't have cars," LeMark said.

LeMark is focusing on South Side communities that can be food deserts, which are now further disadvantaged by the violent looting last month.

"We had to search around for somebody that was open," said Bronzeville resident Darwood Wright.

Wright said he remembers those added challenges and is grateful to pick up groceries at this event so he can avoid an extra trip to the store.

"(It's) peace of mind because I feel more safe," he said.
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