On February 7, a dozen of us from SIM Partners gathered at the McCormick Tribune YMCA in Humboldt Park on Chicago’s west side to package and distribute produce for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This is the third time SIM Partners has volunteered to help the Chicago Food Bank. Fortunately on this chilly February day, we were mostly indoors packaging hundreds of bags of produce to given to families in need.
When our team arrived around 8:45 a.m., there was already a large crowd of people waiting the inside the YMCA gymnasium where the food distribution would happen. Most of those folks had been there since 5 a.m. We were behind schedule since the delivery trucks were still circling the block so we had a lot of catching up to do. Good thing our SIM volunteers were up to the task because the work was non-stop from the moment the truck doors opened. We stacked all the boxes of produce (squash, radish, tomatoes, grapes, green beans, etc.) along the walls of the gym in stations where a smaller group would bag them up for handing out.
The bagging is where the real work began. The plastic bags were a challenge unto themselves, proving very difficult to open. In most cases it took one person assigned to opening the bags so the others could place the precise allotment of produce inside. After a couple hours, we had a sufficient amount on the pallets, and the Chicago Food Bank reps had all the families queued in a long line that snaked back and forth across the gym floor. During the next hour we handed out food to more than 200 families. Some of them came back for a second round until all the food was gone.
By the end we were breaking down the boxes and sweeping the floors. It was an exhausting yet fulfilling morning at the McCormick Tribune YMCA that went by very fast. We are pleased that we could offer our time and effort once again to help the Chicago Food Bank provide for those in need.