Filling the Gap with Fruits and Veggies

Jan 16, 2020

On a brisk Monday morning, a line outside The Salvation Army Templo Laramie Corps in Cicero started to form between 5:30-6:00 a.m. By the time the Produce Mobile Food Pantry opened more than three hours later, the line stretched down 23rd Place – more than 100 people deep.

Volunteer Rebecca Fernandez said as many as 300 people will line up for the once-a-month fresh food pantry that offers a variety of fruits and vegetables for free.

“There’s a need,” Fernandez said. “There’s always a need. From parents and children to seniors and everything. They need help. They all need help.”

For Fernandez, a volunteer of The Salvation Army for more than 20 years, the effort has been personal. She grew up in the neighborhood and still lives there today. She knows several of the clients on a first-name basis.

“Just like a couple seconds ago, one of my daughter’s schoolmate’s mom was here, and she was like ‘hey, I know you.’ I was like ‘yeah, I know you too!’” Fernandez said. “Some of these parents that I see at school, they’ll be like ‘oh, thank you, you know this is such a big help, you guys don’t even know. And I was so happy that we were able to help them.”

The Produce Mobile Food Pantry is scheduled for the first Monday of each month, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., and 1:00-3:00 p.m. The selection varies from month to month, but typically includes apples, green beans, bell peppers, celery, and cauliflower, along with other seasonal produce. The nutrition-rich foods fill in the gaps when money is tight. All of the fruits and vegetables are donated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“My daughters are at college and I’m making payments,” said Rosa Garcia. “So it helps me to stretch the budget. It helps a lot, and its good fruit for the children to eat healthier.”

“We serve anyone,” Fernandez said. “They all ask if we need an ID. No, you just get in line with everybody else. You come and get whatever you’d like.”

Captain Tomas Valladares, corps officer for The Salvation Army Templo Laramie Corps, said they’ll ask the recipients where they come from simply to know if they traveled a ways to get there. “They come from different areas and they share that it’s always a blessing to get what they get here because there is not enough,” he said.

The next Produce Mobile Food Pantry is scheduled for Monday, February 3, at The Salvation Army Templo Laramie Corps, located at 2337 S. Laramie Avenue in Cicero, Illinois.

For more information or to make a donation, visit the Templo Laramie website

Recent Stories

Related Content: Local/Community SupportPrograms/Services

Get Involved
Share Your Story

We would love to hear about your experience with The Salvation Army.

Share My Story


A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.