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Chicago Innovation Award Winner

The Chicago Help Initiative

Winner in: 2021
Winning Product: The Food Truck and Bag Meal Pivot
Winner Category: Chicago Innovation Award
Industry: Non-Profit

Before the pandemic, The Chicago Help Initiative (CHI) fed approximately 200 guests a week indoors and in person, which allowed them access to our various programs. The pandemic closed the dining hall and the rooms we used for our programs so we pivoted to a model focused on meals and information for our guests. We initially leveraged food trucks, whose businesses also suffered from the pandemic, to replace the indoor meals we could no longer provide and to deliver meals to outdoor areas where the homeless would congregate. As the need for meals continued to rise, we then focused on gathering and distributing bag meals to our guests and to organizations around the city that were not able to adapt as quickly as we did. At our peak, we were collecting more than 5000 meals a week and distributing them to 20 organizations around the city. Finally, in lieu of our programs, we would often insert information sheets in the bag meals for our guests so they would know where they could get Covid-19 tests and vaccinations, which shelters were open, and where other resources were available.

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