Illustration by Gemma DeCetra
In recent years, Evanston has expanded its availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for residents of all ages. This summer, residents can access meals through a summer food program and a number of food pantries and learn business management skills through food-related programs.
Summer food program
Free cold breakfast and lunches will be available Monday through Friday for youth ages one to 18 from June 13 through August 12. Meals are available at the Dewey School, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, Mason Park, the Robert Crown Community Center, the King Arts School and Oakton School.
Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Meals for seniors
The city provides meals year-long to people ages 60 or older in five-day frozen meal packs through drive through grab-and-go. Eligible Evanston residents can apply online or visit the Levy Center to access the meals through its drive-through service.
Older adults can get meals delivered from the North Shore Senior Center. The program offers frozen meals and meals accommodating dietary restrictions during delivery from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Interfaith Action of Evanston’s Produce Mobile visits Evanston the second Tuesday of every month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. It distributes boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to Cook County residents at the Robert Crown Community Center.
According to Mary Beth Roth, who volunteers for Produce Mobile, the Produce Mobile also gives out personal hygiene items like laundry detergent, bar soap and dryer sheets.
Any Evanston resident can pick up food from food pantries around the city, subject to availability and a limited number of pickups per month.
Evanston residents can pick up food from Connections for the Homeless from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m weekdays; Evanston Vineyard Food Pantry from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays; Hemenway United Methodist Church Pantry every second and fourth Friday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.; Hillside Food Pantry Wednesdays 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.; Faith and Food Bank Sherman United Methodist Church between 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays; and the Giving Storeroom at Family Focus between 9 a.m. and noon.
Food as employment
The YWCA Evanston began a 12-week job training program in 2019 to prepare clients for jobs in the food service industry. The program is free and allows for training in communication, interview practice, resume writing and basic money management. Participants earn a ServSafe Food Handler Certificate and receive assistance with job placement.
Students do all of the cooking for residents in the YWCA’s domestic violence shelter, according to Erin Venable, vice president of marketing and communications at YWCA Evanston/North Shore.
“A lot of people cook, but this is the empowerment part of it,” Venable said. “You have skills that are employable and in demand. There is a huge food industry here and a lot of opportunities and resources to go with that. This is the launching pad for that.”
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