A collective of Black and brown-owned businesses have teamed up to combat food insecurity in Chicago. According to the Block Chicago Club, they’ve come together for the creation of an initiative dubbed ChiMeals, which is designed to provide meals for underserved communities throughout the city.
Cognizant of the disproportionate impact that food insecurity has on communities of color, the businesses—which include the Black woman-owned food service contractor ChiFresh Kitchen, the Mexican catering company Cooperativia Visionarias and the Mexican immigrant-led Cocina Compartida de Trabajadores Cooperativas—decided to join forces to come up with a solution. Through the ChiMeals initiative, the businesses prepare up to 500 meals daily which are distributed to nonprofits that work directly with vulnerable populations. Among some of the organizations the collective has teamed up with are the YMCA of Metro Chicago, the Black Youth Project 100 and the Grace House. Their efforts are centered on providing free meals for the elderly, youth and the formerly incarcerated.
Beyond addressing food insecurity, the businesses share resources and knowledge to help with the growth of their companies, create generational wealth and drive impact in their communities. “Our collaboration is about co-ops coming together so we can keep each co-op strong and help the community at the same time,” Kimberly Britt—who owns and works at ChiFresh Kitchen—said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “We all have the same passions and help each other so that we can continue to grow and succeed and make living wages for each other as well as serve our community.”
Efforts like ChiFresh Kitchen are needed as the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in the city of Chicago. According to Feeding America, in Illinois over one million people are struggling with hunger and over 300,000 are children.