“We imagine bringing food to every block where hunger lives”
Donated Space at McCormick Place will enable Fight2Feed to Serve Exponentially More People
First ‘Serving Tuesday’ brings 5 local chefs together to make 2,000 meals
February 22, 2021 – North America’s largest convention center McCormick Place, and its food service provider, SAVOR…Chicago are announcing a new partnership with non-profit Fight2Feed to serve local communities in need. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), owner of McCormick Place, is donating space in the East Kitchen of the Lakeside Building to Fight2Feed. This kitchen space provides much needed capacity for the organization to store perishable and nonperishable food along with commercial kitchen space for food preparation. Fight2Feed rescues food from local restaurants, distributors and others, turning it into hot meals and pantry bags that are distributed through local community organizations and directly to those in need.
Fight2Feed’s donated space in the East Kitchen of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Building gives the organization, for the first time, a single location where they can bring in the chefs, hospitality professionals and essential volunteers who plan and cook their meals with fresh ingredients rescued each week. The 22,000 square foot space, provided at no cost to the organization, will enable Fight2Feed to exponentially increase the number of meals they serve.
Started in Chicago by a group of hospitality professionals, Fight2Feed has been cooking in borrowed kitchens, moving from location to location which has hampered their ability to plan and store the food they rescue. The organization focuses on reducing food waste and feeding the hungry, serving anyone in need of a meal. A portion of every mission they prepare is shared with those who are spending time on the streets. The idea is to “feed it forward” with the thought that those who take because they are currently in need will, in turn, share with others.
The relationship between Fight2Feed and McCormick Place is pioneering a socially conscious business model of how cities, businesses and community organizations can work together for the good of community members. “Actions speak louder than words and the fact that we are able come together to give Fight2Feed access to the East Kitchen during the pandemic that has increased both food insecurity and the challenges of food rescue and distribution speaks volumes about the city’s commitment to serving community,” shared MPEA CEO Larita Clark. “There’s so much we can achieve by working together. Our hope is that with the additional space at McCormick Place, Fight2Feed will be able to rescue more food and share with more communities to address food insecure areas of the city.”
“Food rescues happen unexpectedly and it’s incredibly hard for small organizations to have the means to collect items they are in need of due to lack of storage resources,” shared Fight2Feed Founder and CEO Jiwon McCartney. “We have learned so much about food rescue in the past year. From parking lot grabs to pizza dough explosions, we’ve come a long way since March 2020 learning about food rescue. Having a location, like McCormick Place, where we can store and prepare large quantities of food will enable us to intelligently use and strategically share what we rescue. This partnership will be a true game changer that helps us provide nourishing meals while diverting food waste.”
Fight2Feed is dedicated to sharing well-balanced meals served with dignity, transforming rescued items into hot meals served to thousands of community members. The organization was founded in March 2014 in Chicago by McCartney and a group of colleagues comprised of executives from Hard Rock Café, Radisson Blue, Hyatt and Marriott along with friends from the Chicago Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Department. They first partnered with local organizations like Coppin Community Center in Englewood and the Chicago Red Cross.
Since March 2020, Fight2Feed essential volunteers have been rescuing food (over 600,000 lbs. of food in the past 45 weeks) and serving hot meals every week. This new location at McCormick Square will give Fight2Feed dry and cold storage for foods rescued as well as large scale kitchens and equipment. This location will help solve some of Fight2Feed’s early issues (like what to do with 40 pallets of tortilla chips delivered to them in a parking lot. The chips were used in multiple ways, including in a tasty Mexican-style meal).
During the pandemic, Fight2Feed has also started a hospitality pantry program (Hospitality Pantry Aid) that shares food weekly with the city’s many hospitality workers who have been affected by the pandemic. On Tuesday, February 23, Fight2Feed will host their first Serving Tuesday at McCormick Place where local chefs will cook 2,000 meals to share with our community. Fight2Feed agency partners will be the recipients of these meals: Fight2Feed Lake County Hub – Bellaru Catering, Chicago Help Initiative, The Kindness Campaign, Belmont Cragin Mutual Aid, Bronzeville Kenwood Mutual Aid and GROWSS Chicago.
Chefs leading the first Serving Tuesday are:
- Chef Jeff Benzon, Mason Chicago | The Found Hotel
- Chef Christopher De La Cueva, 80Proof
- Chef Stephen Frank, former Chisox Bar & Grill
- Chef D’Andre Carter, Soul + Smoke
- Anthony Baier, Kimski
Those who would like to help can donate or volunteer for Serving Tuesday at: https://bit.ly/3qzy5YS.