← Back to News
October 16, 2023

Beyond Hunger and IICF providing relief for Chicago food insecurity

View PDF
Article by

Michele Zurakowski

As Published in


Reprinted with permission from PropertyCasualty360.com © 2023 ALM Global Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or asset-and-logo-licensing@alm.com

Chicago has a hunger problem. One in five households in the metro area experience food insecurity, including one in four families with children, according to data from Northwestern University.

More than 40 years ago, Beyond Hunger was founded to combat this issue. Beyond Hunger recognizes that beating hunger takes more than just delivering food. The team serves over 40,000 food-insecure individuals across 13 ZIP codes throughout Cook County, providing residents with hunger-relief programming including food, resources, knowledge and skills to lead healthy, active lives. This includes providing:

  • Families with food
  • School children with summer meals
  • Connections to valuable resources such as SNAP dollars
  • Nutrition education and cooking classes to combat chronic illness
  • Groceries for homebound older adults

Beyond Hunger provides nutritional support through four distribution options: a drive-thru food pantry, a traditional in-person community market, an off-site monthly pop-up “Despensa” food pantry serving new immigrants and an expansive home delivery program for older adults and people with disabilities. Typically, families receive more than 70 pounds of fresh produce, lean meats and pantry staples – and all visitors are offered the chance to set up an appointment and work with a benefits coordinator to determine eligibility for income support programs like SNAP.

Last year alone, Beyond Hunger provided more than one million meals across all programs. This includes serving more than 35,000 people through the community market and drive-thru food pantries, serving nearly 7,000 newly immigrated individuals through the Despensa food pantry, and unlocking $200,000 in SNAP dollars that helped local families purchase healthy groceries. Beyond Hunger has also reached more than 11,000 individuals with in-house nutrition education programming. In addition to serving individuals, Beyond Hunger works to create a more racially equitable local food system by utilizing its purchasing power to support local farmers and BIPOC food vendors.

Working with organizations like the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is critical to building out solutions for hunger and nutrition security. IICF teams regularly volunteer at our food distribution centers. IICF also provides valuable direct financial support through grant funding. This funding supports the direct hunger relief programs, helping us to expand and build stronger relationships with a wider range of program participants.

IICF’s assistance helped the home delivery program onboard 54 unique household participants last year. It also provided the team with the flexibility to provide special dietary boxes, including diabetes-friendly, vegetarian, gluten- or nut-free and Latin flavor options. The IICF’s funding has been critical in ensuring we can provide our local community with equitable access to nutritious food.

This year, during the IICF’s annual Week of Giving, volunteers will gather at Beyond Hunger’s Oak Park location to assist staff with packing, boxing and distributing food at our weekly drive-thru food distribution. This support is essential as we seek to provide direct access to healthy food for the community.

The IICF is a critical partner for Beyond Hunger. Through both financial aid and volunteering, the IICF is actively working to end hunger in the Chicago community. As we celebrate IICF Week of Giving, please join our team in combatting food insecurity by visiting https://www.gobeyondhunger.org/

Michele Zurakowski is CEO of Beyond Hunger.


Reprinted with permission from PropertyCasualty360.com © 2023 ALM Global Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or asset-and-logo-licensing@alm.com

View Full Article
Share this!
Related Articles

When the going gets tough, insurers get giving

November 28, 2023


Liberty Mutual to be recognized with "Double I" at annual nonprofit gala: Distinction earned for philanthropic dedication and commitment to local communities

November 22, 2023


Insurers play a vital role in saving lives of domestic violence victims through financial and educational support

October 26, 2023