Food Chicago: Healthy macaroni and cheese ingredients come together for those in need

Ingredients to meals then go to local food pantry

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Friday, August 26, 2022
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When complete, this project will distribute close to one million servings of healthy food to food banks across Chicago and northern and central Illinois.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A different kind of donation was happening Friday morning at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Chicago companies are thinking outside the blue box to bring mac and cheese to families.

Dozens of volunteers from several local companies donated ingredients to make easy meals for families that need it most.

"What Bigger Table does is facilitate donations from Chicago-area ingredient and food manufacturing companies to be able to serve food pantries and food banks," said Alan Reed, executive director of the Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network.

Its collaboration of ingredients-to-meals brings manufacturers together to create a family favorite.

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"It's really delicious cheese powder for macaroni and cheese that's a little healthier, very tasty and we are able to donate it to them, which lowers their cost of having to acquire any," Reed said.

This donation is coming at a time when food prices are skyrocketing, and residents are struggling to feed their families.

"Their donation ... is 54,000 pounds of food, which will equate to 300,000 servings for our families in need throughout Cook County," said Kelsey Kyle, with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

But this idea did come with its own challenges.

"With labor challenges and supply chain issues, it has not been easy to put these products together," Reed said.

When complete, this project will distribute close to one million servings of healthy food to food banks across Chicago and northern and central Illinois.

And it's not only the donation of actual meals, but time, too. Over 70 volunteers were there Friday, helping pack meals for needy families across Cook County.

This type of donation, on such a large scale, has never really been done before to tackle food insecurity.