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One way we celebrate and elevate our community is by providing quality, freshly made holiday meals for our families. This December, we partnered with Chi Fresh Kitchen, who prepared 1,380 fresh holiday meals to distribute to KIPP Chicago families. The need for resources has grown, increasing from 1,064 meals last year, and we are happy that we were able to meet the need to ensure that families were provided and cared for. This effort would not be possible without the organization and commitment of our KIPP Chicago Operations and Regional Team of volunteers. Having all hands on deck during the event contributed to the overall success.
KIPP Chicago and Rush University Medical Center partnered to establish a joint school-based food pantry to support our students in temporary living situations in the Austin neighborhood. On January 17th, we celebrated our official ribbon-cutting ceremony at our KIPP Academy Chicago and Rush food pantry. We are one box, one community!
The ribbon-cutting celebration is evidence of a successful collaboration between Rush and KIPP Chicago and how one part feeds the whole. The school-based food pantry originated from the vision of KIPP Chicago’s Executive Director, April Montgomery, whose own childhood experiences using food stamps led her to develop a deep passion for food insecurity, igniting the development of the Whole Child Initiative. Our mission of establishing a school-based food pantry has been in the works since 2020. In partnership with Rush, we began with quarterly pop-up food distributions for our community, surveyed our families for operational preferences, and engaged with Indeed for a community needs assessment. Thanks to the generosity of A Better Chicago, we received essential funding that enabled us to create a physical space at KIPP Academy Chicago, ensuring the predictable and consistent delivery of quality foods and smooth day-to-day operations. We currently serve 25 households per week, with family sizes between two and eight people. The school-based pantry removes transportation and financial barriers and offers a mix of shelf-stable items and fresh produce from TopBox. We hope that consistent access to quality food increases students’ learning and improves the quality of life for families.
In addition to the food, we want to ensure families have the necessary resources for their households. This summer, we will begin offering wrap-around services for those who need food access from our pantry. We will use NowPow to connect households to SNAP benefits, employment, healthcare, and other life essentials.