UChicago to begin offering free meals on South Side; Evanston to offer free meals to children during COVID-19 crisis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The University of Chicago announced a series of programs to support the South Side community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university is working with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to provide meal preparation and delivery as well as bridge funding and rent relief for small businesses and nonprofits on the South Side as part of the UChicago's Partnering for Community Impact initiative.

"The side effects of the closures have been financially devastating to those of us in the hospitality industry," owner and executive chef Erick Williams of Hyde Park's Virtue Restaurant and Bar said in a statement. "I am encouraged that we are all in this together... Community is everything in times like these."

The University announced the first stage of the effort on Saturday, with an official launch date set for Monday, March 30.

"The University of Chicago has a deep commitment to the people of the South Side, and these new efforts build on this commitment at a time of dramatic challenge and uncertainty. By working in close coordination with local community organizations and a variety of partners in the nonprofit, private, philanthropic, and government sectors, we will help meet critical needs of the South Side communities of which we are a part," University President Robert J. Zimmer said in a statement.

The University will use the dining facilities on campus to prepare meals that will be distributed in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to various locations within the University's nine-community footprint on the South Side which includes: Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park and Woodlawn. The partnership will provide more than 3,000 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, seven days a week through June 12.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot commended the University's initiative.

"Now is the time for all of Chicago's leading institutions to come together to work on behalf of our most vulnerable, and I'm pleased that the University is collaborating with the City's non-profits and aldermen, as well as providing financial assistance to community small businesses," Lightfoot said in a statement.

The initiative also includes a campaign to support local UChicago Medicine health care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, as well as the patients and families who are affected.

On Monday, March 30, small businesses interested in learning more about the grant program should visit coronavirusupdates.uchicago.edu/community-support.

Residents of the South Side in need of food assistance should visit www.chicagosfoodbank.org/find-food/ for a complete list of Greater Chicago Food Depository distribution locations.

The city of Evanston will also begin offering free meals to children Monday, March 30 at several locations. Meals will be handed out from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


  • Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St.

  • Robert Crown Community Center, 1801 Main St.

  • Kamen Park David Wood Fieldhouse, 1111 South Blvd.

  • Mason Park, Church Street and Florence Avenue

For more information visit: www.cityofevanston.org.
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