Chicago Launches Emergency Food Coordination Center For Those In Need Of Food During COVID-19 Pandemic


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Mayor Lightfoot announced Friday the official launch of the city’s Emergency Food Coordination Center at Malcolm X College in partnership with The Salvation Army and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

The coordination center ensures that all who have tested positive or have been asked to quarantine by healthcare officials have access to food during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Chicago and partner organizations are continuing to offer existing food support programs for vulnerable Chicagoans and this new coordination center "leverages and expands these current systems," the Mayor's Office said. “Due to the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 crisis, we have a responsibility as a city to support our residents and families during their urgent time of need,” said Mayor Lightfoot, in a statement. “This coordination center represents a critical resource not only for our communities, but for our entire city as we navigate this evolving challenge and ensure every Chicagoan remains safe, healthy and secure.”

Though making a 311 request, residents who are homebound and quarantined due to COVID-19 who need direct food deliveries and do not qualify for existing food support services will be referred to the new Chicago Emergency Food Coordination Center.  The center will coordinate with The Salvation Army for emergency meal box deliveries, typically within 48 hours.

Vulnerable residents who qualify for existing food support will continue to have access to youth meals, Meals on Wheels for older adults, and the Food Depository’s network of partners and support services.

Residents can contact 311 by downloading the CHI311 free mobile app, going online at or by calling 311. “We’re honored to be called upon by Mayor Lightfoot to be a part of this solution,” said Commissioner Barry Swanson, Salvation Army Metropolitan Divisional Commander, in a statement. “This program really goes to the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission to make sure that people who need food, get that food. This is a dangerous situation, but it allows us to minister to people in a very specific and tangible manner.” The emergency meal boxes from the Salvation Army for homebound and quarantined residents due to COVID-19 include a seven-day supply of food with three meals per day. Residents who need assistance the following week need to submit a new request to 311 at that point, the Mayor's Office said. If the need for food is immediate, the coordination center will work to provide the resident with assistance through the support of city volunteers and the Food Depository. “Our neighbors need our help and they will continue to need our help for months to come,” said Kate Maehr, the Food Depository’s executive director and CEO, in a statement. “We’re grateful for Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership in this crisis. Together, we can help make sure that no one goes hungry in these difficult times.” The coordination center soft-launched March 30 for dispatch, food facilitation, and resident support. Over the past few weeks, the team has worked to ensure that the food plan initiated through the coordination center leverages and expands current systems in place for vulnerable residents. In that time, 311 has received approximately 15,000 food service requests. Chicago Public Library employees, City Colleges work study students and staff, and employees from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events operate the coordination center daily (Sunday through Saturday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  As of April 18, Chicago Public Schools had served nearly 6.5 million meals, the Department of Family and Support Services had distributed close to 350,000 meals, and The Salvation Army had distributed more than 113,000 meals.