CHICAGO (CBS) —This Christmas Eve, Santa is granting one big wish list item for families: the gift of food.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves talked to one group in Chicago helping out Thursday, as the pandemic forces food banks to deal with an unprecedented demand.
On Thursday morning, trucks were loaded and bags of produce filled to the top. A holiday delivery in a pandemic. On a Christmas list, people are asking for food.
“They’re asking for food, brother.”
Christopher LeMark, founder of organization Coffee, Hip Hop and Mental Health had volunteers deliver toys and food to more than 200 families in Chicago this Christmas Eve.
Grandma of three Suzana Martinez from one of them. She, like others submitted wish lists weeks ago in preparation for the holiday.
“These wishes are terrible because they are some of the most simple and basic needs,” LeMark said. “I am feeling a lot of the weight it takes to try and feed families. It is heartbreaking.”
LeMark estimates they’ve been handing groceries to thousands of families since the summer, many of whom who’ve lost jobs. It’s been hard keeping up with demand.
“Grants and donations don’t come as fast as possible.”
“We’re buying more food and we’re paying more for it because of inflation and continued volatility in the supply chain,” said Greg Trotter of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Data from the area food bank showed food insecurity in Cook County has more than doubled during the pandemic. Staff worries about donor fatigue down the line.
“We just really need people to stay engaged with us and give as they can,” Trotter said. “Because this will be a crisis that lasts for months or even years.”
Grassroots groups are now playing a major part in community survival, especially in ones of color where the virus has exposed inequities.
LeMark’s group has since set up a store to sell things like coffee and merchandise to raise funds. And some groups also continue wait for federal aid.
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