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Federal campaign helps little soup kitchen that could

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Given the scope of the problems that we face today, it is getting harder to believe that one person can make a difference.

But every now and then, I run across someone who restores my faith.

Since Desiree Pitts read about “Mother” Betty Price’s efforts to feed the hungry in Englewood, she’s been on a mission.

Reports about the struggling soup kitchen hit around the time the White House kicked off the “Feds Feed Families” community initiative.

The campaign, which ends Oct. 2, encourages federal employees to adopt local food pantries.

Pitts, an employee in the Dairy Grading Branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asked her colleagues to adopt the “Feed, Clothe and Help the Needy” soup kitchen Price founded in 1988.

Price has had to struggle through economic and medical setbacks to keep the doors open and food on the tables.

Over the summer, her task was made more difficult when the Greater Chicago Food Depository restricted the pantry’s food pickup to once a week.

Price’s soup kitchen is the only one in Englewood that is open six days a week. In the past, she and a helper would get up before dawn, almost daily, to go to the depository and sort through food donations.

It was a grueling labor of love.

“So often we tend to think that the hunger problem is in other countries, but it is right here in our own neighborhoods,” said Pitts, who is a missionary at her own church.

About a dozen people in Pitts’ department and 30 employees in the nearby Federal Milk Marketing Administration participated in the campaign.

“Because we are a federal agency, we cannot solicit people, but we had different activities to encourage employees to bring in can goods. We also went out to different grocery stores and bought meats in bulk to deliver to the pantry,” Pitts said.

For instance, the group invited a local chef to come to the administration’s Lisle offices for a “Waffle Day,” and also held a “Brownie Bake-off.”

“We are a small group working together and came out of our pockets to help this little pantry. To date, we’ve collected about 1,900 pounds of food,” Pitts said.

At 1 p.m. on Oct. 1, the group will gather at the soup kitchen on the corner of 59th and Elizabeth to deliver its last formal donation.

Pitts said she has been blessed by this effort.

Before meeting Price, Pitts said she hadn’t considered that while giving a homeless person a bag of groceries is an act of kindness, many of the people in that situation don’t have anywhere to cook a meal.

Price depends heavily on volunteers and on donors to help her pay the expenses associated with the soup kitchen. Price, who is in her late 60s, not only runs the day-to-day operations, but she’s also the primary cook.

“I am really, really grateful for the food donations. It has been a great help. But I need them to start donating money. We have financial needs,” Price told me.

If you’re looking to make a difference in the city, consider doing what this group did.

If you would like to help support the “Feed, Clothe and Help the Needy” soup kitchen, please go to: Gofundme.com/f-c-h-n.

Or call Mother Price at 773-436-8277.

 

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