Every year, hundreds of homeless and poor citizens in Chicago struggle to find their next meal. Whether they live in shelters or residences in low-income neighborhoods, food is scarce. However, there are thousands of food pantries prepping hot meals daily and grocery bags weekly for those in need. 

Although officials reported a 16 percent drop in homelessness in the city, that number is inaccurate due to the impact of the pandemic according to The Real Deal. Since the rise of grocery prices, many residents, especially in predominately black areas, must limit their food intake to spread out what’s left.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository is working to bring food, dignity, and hope into Chicago. They act has a hub for a network of over 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, and more.

Many individuals aren’t informed about where and how to get access to the free food, so here’s where you or someone in need can get your next meal.

Healthy Student Markets

Healthy Student Markets are in schools across the city. They provide market style food distribution to students and families unable to visit traditional food pantries. The Food Depository partnered with City Colleges of Chicago to make HSM available on campus. 

Summer Food Service Programs

Students 18 and under can get free meals this summer through the summer meals program. There are programs that offer closed sites, meal sites that require no fee, sign up or proof of identity. To find a site near you, call (800) 359-2163, text FOODIL to 877877 or visit Summer Meals Illinois’ website. 

Pantry/Grocery Distribution

Once a week, citizens in the city see lines wrapped around the corner at Churches and other establishments. These are pantry/grocery distribution sites that provide canned goods, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and even meat to residents in need. To find a pantry/grocery site near you, use Chicago Food Bank’s food map.

Hot meal programs

The food map also shows hot meal programs located near you if you would rather have those over groceries. These programs provide cooked meals to individuals and families. 

If you’re a parent in need of diapers and infant formula, the Greater Chicago Food Depository have resources for that as well. In this time of need we must come together to help each other in any way we can.

Blavity U Ambassador Lashaunta Moore is a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, studying entrepreneurship for creatives. Moore has a bachelor’s degree in media communication, and she’s also a freelance journalist and digital content producer.