2018 Grant Recipients

Advocates for Urban Agriculture – $5,000 – The support from CHIditarod will go directly to growing AUA’s impact on populations that struggle with healthy food access. The impact is two-fold: a larger production of healthy food for the community and economic development of programs that get that food into the hands of Chicagoans. AUA’s training initiative will ultimately help farmers access the tools they need to more successfully do what they do best – grow food that will increase their prosperity and that of their communities.

Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm – $1,000 – Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm is a community urban agriculture site managed by the Bronzeville Alliance and sponsored by NeighborSpace. One year ago, the Bronzeville Urban Site was an empty lot. Today, Bronzeville Alliance has facilitated community construction of garden beds and a hoop house, paving the way for successful crop production in 2018.  This farm is a community anchor, securing long-term residents in the neighborhood through home-grown social connection. This community farm’s mission is to bring people from different income levels and backgrounds together through shared neighborhood effort.

Dignity Diner – $5,000 – Dignity Diner is a local ministry that offers a free three course meal to community members every Tuesday evening. Holy Covenant United Methodist Church—alongside volunteers from the community—have been serving the hungry and the homeless in the Lincoln Park/Lakeview neighborhood since 1992. Over the last 27 years, more than 60,000 meals have been served at Dignity Diner. The cost of food service at Dignity Diner averages $300 a week, including food, supplies, and staff— the grant from CHIditarod would provide more than 16 weeks of high quality meals to local guests.

Figeroa Wu Foundation – $5,000 – The Figueroa Wu Foundation supports groups like the UI Health Pilsen Food Pantry, which opened in January 2008 and serves vulnerable Chicagoans by reducing immediate food insecurity. In as few as nine months, Figueroa Wu has served thousands of people. UI Health Pilsen Food Pantry will use their grant to train more volunteers, increase their food storage capacity, and increase the number of people served.

Gardeneers – $4,000 – Gardeneers is making an impact across Chicago Public Schools. This grant will increase the amount of produce grown for farm stands by expanding the production area of 25 school gardens. Half of the money will be used to physically expand these gardens, covering lumber, soil, mulch, seeds and seedlings. The other part will be used to purchase materials needed for farm stands, such as tables, chairs, shade tents, display baskets, informational signage, recipe cards, and flyers for community recruitment.

Holsten Human Capital Development

Holsten Human Capital Development – $5,000 – Holsten Human Capital Development currently serves 3,500 households in 15 Chicagoland communities in addition to Riverdale and Joliet. This grant is supporting their Riverwalk Heal food pantry, housed in a space recently vacated by the Loving Word Ministries Food Bank in the Riverwalk Homes public housing complex in Joliet. Holsten Human Capital Development stocks the shelves for distribution for the pantry’s Thursday food distribution and emergency food requests.

New Eclipse Community Alliance – $3,000 – New Eclipse Community Alliance offers food assistance through a client model, allowing people seeking services to choose for themselves what products they receive. This makes stocking easier for the pantry, affords the people served dignity and control, limits food waste, and allows the program to tailor the help received to fit each unique situation.  This funding opportunity will help sustain the food pantry,  which serves 54 households and 174 individual clients monthly.

Peterson Garden Project – $2,000 – Since Peterson Garden Project began with a single Pop-Up Victory Garden in 2010, growing food specifically for neighbors in need has been a priority of their Grow2Give program. Over the past nine years, they have trained volunteer gardeners and worked closely with local nutrition partners to grow fresh food just for their clients – our neighbors. Each year, our Grow2Give volunteer gardeners grow, harvest, wash, package, and deliver an average of 2,500 pounds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs for our neighborhood partners: Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, Inspiration Café in Uptown, Lincoln Square Friendship Center and First Slice Pie Café in Albany Park, North Part Friendship Center in North Park, and Care for Real in Edgewater. That’s 10,000 servings of fresh food for people in our communities.

CHIditarod XII Press Release Pre-Race

Media Advisory for CHIditarod XII, March 4, 2017


Contact: Stephanie Esposito, CHIditarod Press Liaison
Email: espo@chiditarod.org
Phone: 312.203.5529

MUSH! The CHIditarod, Chicago’s Shopping Cart Race for a Good Cause Celebrates 12th Year
Rollicking yearly event raises thousands of pounds of food and donations to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository, local organizations

Who: Spectators and well-wishers are invited to witness the start of the 12th CHIditarod, Chicago’s annual rambunctious, costumed shopping cart race, raising food and donations to combat hunger.

What: Part competition, part carnival, the CHIditarod is “probably  the world’s largest mobile food drive”. This year, more than 100 teams of five people in costumes will race decorated shopping carts for a good cause.

Whether they’re wearing giant Muppet heads, rolling a mobile diner, or paying tribute to lost legends or movie classics, each team will contribute at least 69 pounds of food to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD), with prizes awarded for largest food and monetary contributions and the most creative carts. This year, Kraft Heinz has partnered to donate 2,000 lbs of condiments to GCFD for the CHIditarod Foundation.

Now in its 12th year, the CHIditarod – a 100% volunteer driven organization – has raised more than 150,000 pounds of food for Chicago’s hungry and more than $145,000 for local nonprofits fighting hunger in the Chicago area.  Since the beginning of the CHIditarod Foundation’s grant program, $95,000 has been given out to like minded nonprofits who have new and creative ways of solving food scarcity.  

When: Saturday, March 4, 2017. Teams begin arriving at 9:45am. The pre-race festivities include performances by local eclectic marching band Environmental Encroachment. Race start is expected at 12:30pm.

Where: 1900 W. Hubbard, Chicago IL 60622 (northwest corner of Hubbard and Wolcott).

Visuals: 500+ excited participants in costume and decorated shopping carts, 200+ dedicated volunteers, trucks being loaded with thousands of pounds of donations for GCFD, raucous race start with 100+ teams pouring out of the gate and onto Chicago streets, pre-race music from 20+ member marching band.

For media interviews and Press RSVP, please contact:
Stephanie Esposito, espo@chiditarod.org, 312.203.5529
Starting line access is available through media check-in, we ask that all press RSVP prior to 3/01/2016.

About the CHIditarod Foundation

CHIditarod continues to expand its fundraising efforts to compliment the food drive that has been in operation since its first year (2006). In ten years, CHIditarod has donated more than 150,000 lbs of food to local food pantries, in addition to raising more than $145,000 for local non-profits. In 2012, race organizers formed the CHIditarod Foundation to award funds raised through CHIditarod’s events to local Chicago-based charities dedicated to eradicating hunger in their communities. CHIditarod is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is a 100% volunteer driven event and organization.
For more, visit: www.chiditarod.org

$25,000 to 8 Local Non Profits

The CHIditarod Foundation is proud to announce our 2016 Grant Program awardees.
This year the CHIditarod Foundation raised an incredible $32,798 for its grant program. This year we are able to again give out $25,000 in funds Chicago-area 501(c)(3) organizations that are directly fighting hunger, making an impact on local food sustainability, and/or empowering individuals and communities through food education. There were so many great applications is was hard to choose who to join on their fight against hunger. The CHIditarod Foundation chose eight organizations doing amazing work.
We are thrilled to introduce the 2016 winning organizations!
61st posterExperimental Station – Efforts to address the challenges and obstacles to eating healthy in a low-income, food insecure neighborhood. Their CrockPot Project will work with the 61st Street Farmers Market, to teach people how to cook healthy, vitamin and mineral rich foods.
Logo - Gardeneers

Gardeneers– This org runs an educational program in Chicago Public Schools designed to introduce children to new foods, teach food adventurism, and promote nutritional awareness and self-care. CHIditarod funds are helping to continue the Gardeneers program in a Garfield Park, which recently lost their capacity to support the program.

garfielsGarfield Park Conservatory – In this food desert, GPCA channels the Conservatory’s resources to grow and distribute fresh produce and seedlings to the community and to educate, train, support and sustain community gardeners who are leading the movement to locally grow food to feed the residents of their neighborhoods.

Heartland Alliance Group– Their Vital Bridges Program to support the addition of a community garden in their West garfield park Grocery Center. They plan to increase the amount of fresh produce, serve low-income participants with HIV or Aids, and build a greater community

Howard Area Community Gardens – To increase the number of plots, rebuild a community meeting space with meeting space and workshops, changing the neighborhood to a joyful source of community and abundance.

Restoration Ministries – Supporting their community garden providing neighbors and food pantry clients access to fresh, produce and nutritionally rich foods. The garden will supply vegetables and herbs for meals for our Harvey House and Tabitha House residents and youth program participants.


Su Casa Catholic Charities– Smack in the middle of Back of the Yards, this group offers tons of social services, including a big food pantry in an otherwise bleak food desert. The grant they received from the CHIditarod Foundation will be used exclusively on durables which will expand the capacity and the lifespan of this program.

The Pie Patch– This is a community garden “start up” in every sense of the word. The org is about 1 year old, and they are located in Back of the Yards. The Pie Patch is a berry farm, one of only two urban “orchards” in the Chicago area who use a pick-your-own model, which both keeps costs down for people who want to eat the fruit, and helps families and residents get up close and personal with the garden.

CHIditarod’s grants to Chicago community-based organizations fighting hunger would not be possible without our generous donors, volunteers, and partners. We are grateful for their continued support.


The CHIditarod Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the root causes of hunger through creative events and direct action. Our flagship event — The CHIditarod — brings together 1,000 people annually and has funded $95,000 in small grants for local anti-hunger initiatives since its inception. The CHIditarod takes place annually on the first Saturday in March. On March 5, 2016, CHIditarod jumped into the next dacade of doing good, with 540 costumed racers chasing their dreams of CHIditarod glory and making a difference in the fight against hunger. Since its humble beginnings in 2006, CHIditarod has raised more than 150,000 pounds of food and $183,000 in the fight to end hunger in the greater Chicago area.
For more information about CHIditarod and the CHIditarod Foundation, follow us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Mush! Chicago’s Annual Shopping Cart Race Celebrates 10th Year

On March 7th, giant muppet heads, birthday cakes, and mobile diners will once again brave the cold to celebrate the CHIditarod’s tenth anniversary in what’s expected to be its most rambunctious year yet. Despite its humble origins as an underground, costumed invasion of Chicago’s Near West Side, CHIditarod has grown into a Chicago institution which raised more than $100,000 and 100,000 lbs of food to fight hunger in the Chicagoland area since 2006.

CHIditarod continues to have a wide impact without letting go of its grassroots ethos. In addition to giving away $25,000 to local charities in 2014, CHIditarod is a longtime partner of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “Each year, more than 812,000 people – 1 in 6 in Cook County – turn to the Food Depository for assistance,” said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Food Depository. “The need is significant. But, since 2006, the support of the CHIditarod has been instrumental as we work towards a day when no one goes hungry.”

“I have watched CHIditarod grow from a small event to something hugely impactful. The creativity and dedication that our participants bring every year to help the hungry is truly amazing. In our tenth year, we want to thank them by putting on the biggest, most epic CHIditarod yet,” said Devin Breen, the founder of the CHIditarod and Top Dog of the CHIditarod Foundation.

“The morning after CHIditarod IX, I started planning this year’s cart,” said longtime racer Melissa R. Rutherfoord. In an event that’s fun for newbies and veteran racers alike, teams are encouraged to plan ahead and be creative. Melissa R. Rutherfoord recalls, “One year we spent weeks in the Steppenwolf scene shop turning a shopping cart into a sea monster. We waded through Chicago streets wearing old fashioned diving suits pretending our cart was attacking us. We used bubble machines to produce thousands of bubbles to complete the underwater effect. Needless to say we got a few hoots and honks.”

Gleefully referring to itself as “possibly the world’s largest mobile food drive,” the CHIditarod unites many Chicago communities including cyclists, artists, activists, students, professionals, enthusiastic leisurists, and everyone in-between. This whimsical urban shopping cart race involves teams of five which elaborately decorate their cart and themselves, usually around a theme. Each team is required to show up with their cart full of food to be donated.

About the CHIditarod Foundation
CHIditarod continues to expand its fundraising efforts to compliment the food drive that has been in operation since its first year (2006). In nine years, they have donated more than 100,000 lbs of food to local food pantries in addition to raising more than $100,000 for local non-profits. In 2012, race organizers formed the CHIditarod Foundation to award funds raised through CHIditarod’s events to local Chicago-based charities dedicated to eradicating hunger in their communities. CHIditarod is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Fact Sheet
2014 Results Blog Post
2014 Photos

2014 CHIditarod Foundation Grant Recipients Announced

2014 CHIditarod Grant Winners Announced!

On October 1, 2014, the CHIditarod Foundation delivered some incredible news to seven Chicago-area 501(c)3 organizations that are directly working to fight hunger, impact local food sustainability, and empower individuals and communities through food education. After reviewing applications from nearly 30 wonderful organizations via our 2014 Grant Program, the following were selected as 2014 ChIditarod Foundation Grant recipients for their programs and services that help alleviate hunger and/or food insecurity:

The CHIditarod Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that coordinates fundraising and awards grants from proceeds raised through the CHIditarod and CHIditarod-related events. This year, 1,100 costumed racers trekked their way through West Town, Bucktown, and Wicker Park despite the snow and freezing temperatures and raised more than 21,000 pounds of food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and more than $40,000 for the CHIditarod Foundation and Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The CHIditarod takes place on the first Saturday of March and will be celebrating its 10th year on March 7, 2015.

For more information, check for updates at www.chiditarod.org and friend or follow us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Now Accepting Applications for the 2014 Grant Program

purple asparagus teaching chicago public schools

Now Accepting Applications for the 2014 Grant Program!

We are thrilled to announce the 2014 Chiditarod Grant program! We have allocated up to $25,000 (in $5,000 increments) to be awarded to Chicago-area 501(c)3 organizations that are directly fighting hunger, making an impact on local food sustainability, and/or empowering individuals and communities through food education.

The application and nomination process begins today with an application deadline of 11:59 pm on June 30, 2014.

You are welcome to apply if your organization meets the following requirements:

  • Be a recognized by the IRS as 501(c)(3) organization, or have a written agreement of fiscal sponsorship from a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Operates in the metropolitan Chicagoland area
  • Operates programs focusing on:
    • Innovative educational opportunities
    • Building partnerships with other organizations and policy-relevant leaders engaged in local issues
    • Health nutrition or creative work on some aspect of food
    • Innovation to address challenges to food access and availability

We are particularly interested in organizations whose mission is related to alleviating hunger, addressing food insecurity, and/or improving the lives of the public through education, food or hunger relief in the metropolitan Chicago area.

Applicants may directly submit their proposals or be nominated here.

Call To Arms – 2014

Chiditarod-2011-Devin-Starting-Line-441x340RACER REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Thanks for your patience as our programmers finished the new registration software, dogtag.

RACE: Team registration at http://bit.ly/chiditarod-team-registration
For more details, visit Chiditarod.org/race

VOLUNTEER: Volunteer registration at http://bit.ly/chirod-2014-volunteer-signup
For more details, visit Chiditarod.org/volunteer


Pre-ordering links for one-time release CHIditarod IX patches and super fresh t-shirts: COMING SOON! Watch our twitter and Facebook feeds for announcement.
We still lay claim to being “Probably the World’s Largest Mobile Food Drive.” Our philanthropic efforts continue to expand through partnerships with food pantries, urban farms and food education organizations.

Food Donations – The Greater Chicago Food Depository will return as our revered food beneficiary. This year, both racers and checkpoints will be collecting food. Each checkpoint (to be announced soon) will have food collection bins for their patrons in the weeks leading up to the CHIditarod.

Financial Donations – With the creation in 2013 of The CHIditarod Foundation, all financial donations will be going to the CHIditarod Foundation, a non-profit focused on combating hunger in Illinois via education and partnerships.

Fundraise for your teams: http://bit.ly/chirod-fundraising
Make a direct donation: http://bit.ly/chirod-foundation

We are super stoked to announce that Friday, February 7th, Chiditarod is hosting its very own official ChiditaFundraiser! Expect music, photo-ops, open bar and LOTS of bowling. There are a limited number of tickets so buy yours before they run out! Teams will be able to raise money to go towards their own fundraising tallies. ChiditaBowl is an all bowling themed event, so please deck yo’self out proper for the night.

CHIditarod Foundation Mini-Grant Infusion To Community


(Chicago, January 12, 2014)– On Saturday March 2, 2013, 149 teams participated in the annual CHIditarod Urban Cart Race. They suited-up and raced tricked-out grocery carts through the Wicker Park and West Town neighborhoods, raising more than 17,000 pounds of food The Greater Chicago Food Depository, and more than $20,000 to help 501(c)(3) organizations in the community eliminate hunger and solve food insecurity issues in Chicago.

Continuing the CHIditarod tradition of philanthropy, we’ve expanded in the past few years to incorporate fundraising to accompany our well-received food drive — over 85,000 lbs of food has been donated to local food pantries in our eight year history. In 2012 we formed the CHIditarod Foundation, the nonprofit organization created to manage CHIditarod fundraising and award grants. Through the Foundation, our goal is to engage with the community to alleviate food insecurity and the root causes of hunger.

We are delighted to share the following results from our 2013 grant program. Below is the breakdown of grants delivered in 2013 by the CHIditarod Foundation. Our theme was Childhood Education and Engagement around food and nutrition.

$5,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository in support of their children’s programs. The grant will supply nearly 9,000 pounds (or the equivalent of 7,500 meals) of nutritious food and fresh produce for distribution throughout their Healthy Kids Markets and Kids Cafe programs in Chicago Public Schools and throughout Cook County.

Hunger disproportionately affects children in Cook County – one of every five children in our community doesn’t know when or where they’re going to get their next meal,” said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “Because of the CHIditarod’s generous support of the Food Depository’s children’s programs, more children in our community will receive the meals they need.


$5,000 to Purple Asparagus, in support of their Delicious, Nutritious Adventures program, where Chicago Public schoolchildren taste new foods, learn where they come from, why they benefit their bodies, and how to make simple and healthy meals with their families. The grant will pay for a year’s worth of food and supplies for two new schools.

We are so thrilled to be receiving this funding from the CHIditarod Foundation, a truly impactful organization that understands the link between food security and nutrition and community,” said Purple Asparagus Executive Director, Melissa Graham.  “Their unique style of fundraising mobilizes our communities to action while providing an artistic outlet showcasing our greater character, originality, and enthusiasm for charity.  We’d like to thank CHIditarod Foundation and all of the community members that participated in last year’s event.  With this funding Purple Asparagus will be able to purchase the food and supplies necessary to expand our Delicious Nutritious Adventures programming, which educates Chicago Public School children about eating that’s good for the body and the planet, to two new schools next year.


$5,000 to Angelic Organics Learning Center, in support of their Eat to Live Urban Farm and Garden (E2L) development project. E2L is a comprehensive urban agriculture and food systems development project located in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. E2L reached over 650 children and adults in 2013 through programs with schools, a quarter-acre community garden, and a half-acre urban farm.  Jackie Kaplan-Perkins, Director of Development and Communications:

Angelic Organics Learning Center is extremely grateful for the CHIditarod grant that supported our Eat to Live Urban Farm and Garden project in Englewood.  At a time when an increasing number of families in the United States are food insecure, this grant allowed us to continue our work giving children and their families in Englewood the knowledge and opportunity to connect with the earth and grow healthy food.



$5,000 to Peterson Garden Project, in support of their Pop Up Victory Gardens, Operation VEGucation food growing classes, and Grow2Give food donations and community outreach that recruit, educate and inspire a new generation of gardeners who want to gain control of their food supply, grow their own produce organically and make urban gardening the norm—not the exception.

There are a lot of smart people doing amazing things to change our relationship with food, from supporting local farmers to showing us all how our little bit can help, from illuminating the important role of food-as-culture to how our dining choices matter. We are so grateful to the CHIditarod Foundation for being among those actively seeking to make a healthier city and planet, and for their generosity in supporting Peterson Garden Project.