Chicago Bears, Salvation Army, Greater Chicago Food Depository Team Up to Tackle Hunger

Dec 9, 2021

The Chicago Bears, The Salvation Army, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository recently teamed up to tackle hunger in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, a community known as a food desert. The Bears Neighborhood Pantry, the first of three events planned on Chicago’s south and west sides this winter, benefitted people like Teresa.

This Englewood grandmother attended the pantry at The Salvation Army Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center on December 8 to get food she can cook for her 13 grandbabies, 10 of whom live locally. “Their mammas don’t cook like I do, so they like coming to grandma’s house to eat,” Teresa said. Putting a bag of apples in her bag, she said she was looking forward to baking them a pie with this fresh produce.

Darryl, another pantry patron, talked about the challenge of finding fresh produce in a food desert. “You have to go a long way to find a store with fresh produce like this,” he said, nodding to a table arrayed with potatoes, celery, and turnip greens. Since he doesn’t have a car, he’d have to carry that produce home on a bus, a challenge that gets even worse in winter, he noted.

Seeking to help neighbors like Teresa and Darryl, the Chicago Bears, The Salvation Army, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository partnered to create one-day, market-style food pantries. Personal shoppers helped clients choose from a selection of fresh meats and locally grown produce, as well as canned goods, bread, milk, flowers, and more.

Several of those personal shoppers were familiar to sports fans. Former Chicago Bears Chris Zorich, Wendell Davis, Mickey Pruitt, Fabien Bownes, Emery Moorehead, and Ike Hill volunteered to help pantry clients select their items and carry them to their cars. “I grew up going to food pantries with my mom,” Chris Zorich said, explaining his motivation to help. “We relied on organizations like The Salvation Army to get by.” Staley, the Chicago Bears mascot, was also on hand to greet, high five, and occasionally dance with the shoppers.

Chef Joe from the Flik Hospitality Group, the Halas Hall food service provider, was at the first stop for pantry shoppers, cooking up a delicious chicken and potato soup. Clients were invited to try a sample as they shopped and to take a copy of the recipe, which they could then make with the ingredients they received at the pantry. As he chopped up kale and potatoes, he said he enjoyed helping others understand how to use the food they might not have tried before.   

“The timing of this program is vital as food insecurity is distinctly felt at the holidays when a meal is about more than just food – it's about family, togetherness, and celebration,” said Lt. Colonel Lonneal Richardson, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. Clients also received access to wraparound services from The Salvation Army, including rental and utilities assistance, winter coats, SNAP benefits enrollment, and nutritional supplements at Salvation Army corps community centers.

“Providing necessary resources to support our neighbors is important to the Chicago Bears and we are grateful to work alongside The Salvation Army and Greater Chicago Food Depository to organize these three food distributions,” said Matt Simeone, Community & Alumni Relations of the Chicago Bears.

“For generations, families in predominantly Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately affected by food insecurity,” said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened these inequities, leaving more of our neighbors facing hunger than ever before. Partnerships like these with The Salvation Army and Chicago Bears allow us to meet our neighbors where they’re at and provide them with not only food, but hope.”

The next Bears Neighborhood Pantry will be on January 7 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Corps Community Center in West Humboldt Park (825 N. Christiana Avenue, Chicago). Learn more at

See more photos from the Bears Neighborhood Pantry

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