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The Obama Foundation hosts a free community event with Chicago-based Community Organizations, youth, parents, mentors, and other key stakeholders to celebrate the launch of the Local Lunchbox Chicago pilot program at at Overton Elementary School, 211 E. 49th St., July 7.

Local Lunchbox, a nutrition program that uses U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to pay local chefs and caterers to cook healthy breakfasts and lunches for eligible children and teenagers launched this month with help from the Obama Foundation.

"It's an amazing program," said Erica S. Hubbard, the Obama Foundation's director of Chicago programs, in an interview. 

The Chicago program was created in partnership with the Shah Family Foundation, the nonprofit that originated Local Lunchbox in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 2020. Hubbard said the goal in Chicago is to provide more than 100,000 meals this summer through community partners like Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave., and the South Side YMCA, 6330 S. Stony Island Ave. My Block, My Hood, My City is also a partner and delivers food to recipients.

The program has gotten more than $1 million in funding from USDA.

The program is currently in the pilot phase, and the Obama Foundation plans to extend it into the fall, perhaps targeting organizations that do fall after-school programming. 

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The Obama Foundation hosts a free community event with Chicago-based Community Organizations, youth, parents, mentors and other key stakeholders to celebrate the launch of the Local Lunchbox Chicago pilot program at at Overton Elementary School, 221 E. 49th, July 7.

"Everyone's wishful thinking is to expand this to where our partners are able to do this on their own," Hubbard said. "We're not there yet. I think there's a lot of learning this summer. We know this is a great program. It's a great thing to be able to share these delicious and healthy meals and provide those for these kids, but we're still talking with other partners and getting other stakeholders, bringing them to the table. This is the first time this program has been to Chicago, so obviously there's going to be some initial hesitation."

The Massachusetts Local Lunchbox program has already distributed more than 5 million meals, and Hubbard is likewise confident that the program in Chicago will find similar success. More information is online at locallunchbox.org/chi.

(1) comment

Ross Petersen

Let's not forget the Kenwood - Oakland Community Organization's efforts, which have been underway - for decades, now. And I appreciate the effort made by the Obama foundation, although the effort to get a CBA from the Obama foundation continues.

Yes, it is a good thing to bring meals to the community. What is needed is a CBA, to assure local residents - they'll still have a roof, over their head.

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