C&W Foundation brings food, jobs and growth to Evanston residents, students


Photo courtesy of Clarence Weaver

Volunteers finish setting up the curbside pick-up portion of the C&W Foundation’s Saturday grocery drive.

Rachel Schlueter, Reporter

Once lunchtime begins at Evanston Township High School, the aisles of C&W Market fill with high schoolers, prompting co-owners Clarence and Wendy Weaver to jump into action.

Clarence Weaver greets students with a fist bump as he rings up their candy and chips. Wendy Weaver, his wife, calls for students’ sandwich orders. 

“We get a wave of students at 11:30 a.m. and one at 12 p.m.,” she said. “In the summer, we could have 40 to 50 students in here at one time.”

Located at 1901 Church St., C&W Market is a joint ice cream parlor and mini-mart offering an assortment of snacks, produce and groceries. The store is also a staple for 5th Ward residents and ETHS students year-round, Wendy Weaver said. The couple also began the C&W Foundation to distribute food to community members in need in March 2020. 

When starting the store, Clarence Weaver said he saw C&W Market as the “prime opportunity” to bring nutritious food to students and residents of the 5th Ward, which he said lacks accessible grocery stores. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, the foundation began holding weekly grocery drives for Evanston families and seniors — now, the organization distributes food to approximately 200 families each week, Clarence Weaver said. 

On Saturdays at 7 a.m., the Weavers and more than 20 volunteers package groceries at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center across the street from C&W Market. At 9 a.m., C&W Foundation begins distributing groceries to cars at the curb or directly to homes.  

“We make sure that something we give them is something we would eat ourselves,” Clarence Weaver said. “Our produce is fresh enough to last families a week and give them time to try to make things they want.”

The C&W Foundation expanded its efforts in late 2022 by opening a food pantry in C&W Market. Evanston families can now pick up groceries from the market’s food pantry on days when the C&W Foundation is not holding food drives. 

In addition to food insecurity, the C&W Foundation focuses on workforce development, especially for ETHS students, who make up the majority of C&W Market’s customer base.

ETHS students can also work at C&W Market for service hours. Students learn to use the cash register, clean the store and stock the food pantry. The Weavers mentor students in the hope that they walk away from C&W Market with valuable retail and life skills. 

One ETHS junior has volunteered at C&W Market since eighth grade and has the most service hours of any ETHS student at the store, Wendy Weaver said. 

“He’s one of our best workers,” she said. “If he could drive, we could just say ‘Take the ice cream truck over to an event.’ It’s been so fulfilling to see him grow.”

Employing students allows the Weavers more time to increase C&W Foundation’s presence in Evanston. The couple recently hired a new team member to expand C&W Market’s marketing and social media presence, Wendy Weaver said. 

Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development, a student-run microfinance organization, also supports the Weavers in their community outreach by providing loans to C&W Market. 

LEND directly gives money to C&W Market, LEND president and Weinberg senior Sean Liu said. 

“Our relationship (with C&W Market) is useful for community relations and getting Northwestern students out in the community — especially the 5th Ward, where C&W is a cornerstone,” Liu said. 

He hopes that through the partnership, NU students can immerse themselves in the whole Evanston community — not just downtown Evanston.

Through the C&W Foundation’s community outreach, Clarence Weaver said C&W Market is a space for residents to access opportunities in addition to a quick lunch and groceries. 

“We try to provide Evanstonians with what we can,” he said. “And we do it with class and dignity.”

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Twitter: @rschlueter26

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