2020 Grants: How we gave away nearly $100,000 during a pandemic

This year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the generosity of CHIditarod participants has been more important than ever.

Since March 2020, the CHIditarod Foundation has distributed just under $100,000 to local organizations who are directly tackling hunger in the greater Chicagoland area. This amount includes $46,600 in emergency grants distributed between April and June, during the most economically jarring stages of the pandemic, as well as $50,000 through our annual Grant Program, which just wrapped up and disbursed new funds last week. These gifts have helped put food in the hands of Chicagoans who were at immediate risk of food crisis. They have kept food pantries and hot meals program open that would have otherwise have shut due to pandemic-related challenges. They have sustained local greenhouses, community farms, and grassroots food access programs as they rapidly pivot to effectively & safely meet the needs of their communities during the pandemic. The $96,600 granted in 2020 is more than the total of the first 4 years of the grant program, combined.

The following organizations received funding through the CHIditarod Foundation’s competitive 2020 Grant Program:

Ujamaa Cooperative – to their Commercial Urban Farm becoming a standard commercial farm. They will be involved in commercial crop cultivation, fish farming, and in-ground farming all while remaining fully organic.

Humanity Relief  – to support their volunteers and staff who deliver meals and in-kind gift packages for the homeless. They also aid refugees and domestic abuse victims with groceries and home necessities.

Chicago Bridge Project – to help to secure a space to host a drop-in cafe and free clothing store. CBP is a food and clothing rescue organization, who partners with local restaurants, dry cleaners and laundromats.

Streetwise  – to support their relocation to a new spot with a kitchen and ability to serve hot meals to their vendors, job seekers, and those in their new South Loop community. This grant will help expand its food pantry items to provide pre-packaged easy to prepare meals.

Grace Housing Complex  – to support their ‘You Got The Juice’ program, which has been a part of their COVID-19 Emergency Assistance. They provide direct emergency food assistance weekly giving “produce packs” filled with an assortment of fresh fruits, veggies and non-perishable food items.

Glenwood Sunday Farmers Market – to support the Market For All Project, which increases food accessibility by giving SNAP/Link recipients matching grants to increase their purchasing power.

Dignity Diner – to provide complete, hot meals to the 40-70 guests for more than 16 weeks providing over 950 meals served with dignity and respect.

Top Box Foods – to create access to healthy and affordable produce and protein at up to 40% below retail. Adjusting with COVID-19 pandemic, they began to make home deliveries for those who would not otherwise be able to safely access food.

St. Malachy + Precious Blood Food Pantry – to support the purchase of a semi-electric pallet jack!  This piece of equipment will increase the efficiency food distribution, shortening the recipients’ time waiting in line and be a huge help to their volunteer base.

Care for Friends – to support their high-demand, low barrier hot meals program. With more need and fewer resources in the community, CFF has seen more guests and a more diverse group people seeking support. This money will make sure anyone in need can get a hot meal.

Hunger Resource Network – to purchase and distribute massive quantities of chicken to food relief organizations at no cost. This twice a year program makes sure those in need get fresh quality meat, which is very hard for many pantries to come by.

Green City Market – to support their SNAP-matching program. This will double the purchasing power of more than 330 food-insecure Chicagoans. A portion of the grant, will purchase handi-carts so orders can safely and efficiently be processed.

Figueroa Wu Family Foundation – to support the Pilsen Food Pantry, which has survived an emergency relocation (their original site was commandeered as a COVID clinic!) to provide emergency food pantry, mainly serving walk up clients. This grant will help make sure families and fed, and ensure they stay operational

New Eclipse Community Alliance – to support changes to this pantry’s food distribution efforts in response to COVID-19, including additional food acquisition and the purchase of a van to deliver food to home-bound or senior clients, tents and tables for safe outdoor distribution, and racks and bins for inventory and storage.

The CHIditarod Foundation also gave $46,600 in Emergency Grants in the spring and summer of 2020. Thanks to the relationships we have built with these high-impact organizations over the years, we were able to learn when their needs reached unsustainable levels and take action immediately, offering terribly-needed funds to cover expenses that no one had anticipated. Hot meals programs needed to-go containers and delivery infrastructure; local gardens had to discharge their volunteers, leaving only 1 or 2 people to start the growing season; pantries saw increases in demand ranging from 200 to 400 percent! The money raised by CHIditarod participants very literally kept lights on and doors open at some of the most needed, high impact community service and food access programs across Chicago.

The organizations who benefited from this emergency support are: