Donated Kitchen Space at McCormick Place Enables Fight2Feed to Serve Exponentially More People
First “Serving Tuesday” brings Five Local Chefs Together to Make 2,000 Meals
North America’s largest convention center McCormick Place, and its food service provider, SAVOR…Chicago announced a new partnership with non-profit Fight2Feed to serve local communities in need. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), owner of McCormick Place, is donating space in the East Kitchen of the Lakeside Building to Fight2Feed. This kitchen space provides much needed capacity for the organization to store perishable and nonperishable food along with commercial kitchen space for food preparation. Fight2Feed rescues food from local restaurants, distributors and others, turning it into hot meals and pantry bags that are distributed through local community organizations and directly to those in need.
Fight2Feed’s donated space in the East Kitchen of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Building gives the organization, for the first time, a single location where they can bring in the chefs, hospitality professionals and essential volunteers who plan and cook their meals with fresh ingredients rescued each week. The 22,000-square-foot space, provided at no cost to the organization, will enable Fight2Feed to exponentially increase the number of meals they serve.
Started in Chicago by a group of hospitality professionals, Fight2Feed has been cooking in borrowed kitchens, moving from location to location which has hampered their ability to plan and store the food they rescue. The organization focuses on reducing food waste and feeding the hungry, serving anyone in need of a meal. A portion of every mission they prepare is shared with those who are spending time on the streets. The idea is to “feed it forward” with the thought that those who take because they are currently in need will, in turn, share with others.
The relationship between Fight2Feed and McCormick Place is pioneering a socially conscious business model of how cities, businesses and community organizations can work together for the good of community members. “Actions speak louder than words and the fact that we are able come together to give Fight2Feed access to the East Kitchen during the pandemic that has increased both food insecurity and the challenges of food rescue and distribution speaks volumes about the city’s commitment to serving community,” says MPEA CEO Larita Clark (pictured right). “There’s so much we can achieve by working together. Our hope is that with the additional space at McCormick Place, Fight2Feed will be able to rescue more food and share with more communities to address food insecure areas of the city.”
“Food rescues happen unexpectedly and it’s incredibly hard for small organizations to have the means to collect items they are in need of due to lack of storage resources,” shared Fight2Feed Founder and CEO Jiwon McCartney (pictured left). “We have learned so much about food rescue in the past year. From parking lot grabs to pizza dough explosions, we’ve come a long way since March 2020 learning about food rescue. Having a location, like McCormick Place, where we can store and prepare large quantities of food will enable us to intelligently use and strategically share what we rescue. This partnership will be a true game changer that helps us provide nourishing meals while diverting food waste.”
Fight2Feed is dedicated to sharing well-balanced meals served with dignity, transforming rescued items into hot meals served to thousands of community members. The organization was founded in March 2014 in Chicago by McCartney and a group of colleagues comprised of executives from Hard Rock Café, Radisson Blue, Hyatt and Marriott along with friends from the Chicago Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Department. They first partnered with local organizations like Coppin Community Center in Englewood and the Chicago Red Cross.
Since March 2020, Fight2Feed essential volunteers have been rescuing food (more than 600,000 lbs. of food in the past 45 weeks) and serving hot meals every week. This new location at McCormick Square will give Fight2Feed dry and cold storage for foods rescued as well as large scale kitchens and equipment. This location will help solve some of Fight2Feed’s early issues (like what to do with 40 pallets of tortilla chips delivered to them in a parking lot. The chips were used in multiple ways, including in a tasty Mexican-style meal).
During the pandemic, Fight2Feed has also started a hospitality pantry program (Hospitality Pantry Aid) that shares food weekly with the city’s many hospitality workers who have been affected by the pandemic. On February 23, Fight2Feed hosted their first “Serving Tuesday” at McCormick Place where local chefs cooked 2,000 meals to share with the community. Fight2Feed agency partners receiving meals included: Fight2Feed Lake County Hub – Bellaru Catering, Chicago Help Initiative, The Kindness Campaign, Belmont Cragin Mutual Aid, Bronzeville Kenwood Mutual Aid and GROWSS Chicago. Those who would like to help can donate or volunteer for Serving Tuesday at: https://bit.ly/3qzy5YS
A 501(C)(3) organization, Fight2Feed brings food to people who need it, fighting hunger and food waste in its communities. The organization has fed over 500,000 people and rescued over 850,000 pounds of food since its launch in 2014. Fight2Feed cooks for community and organizations in need of hot meals from soup kitchens and borrowed spaces. Their focus is bringing food to the streets, where hunger lives. With 300+ essential volunteers in Chicago, Atlanta, Pensacola and Kansas City, Fight2Feed seeks to grow more chapters to share their message. For more info or to donate or volunteer, visit fight2feed.org.
The McCormick Square campus features McCormick Place—the largest exhibition and meeting facility in North America—which offers 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space, 173 meeting rooms, one of the largest ballrooms in the world, the 1,258-room Hyatt Regency, the 1,205-room Marriott Marquis Chicago, the 4,249-seat Arie Crown Theater and the 10,387-seat Wintrust Arena. Located on Chicago’s lakefront just minutes from downtown, McCormick Place is owned by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and is managed by ASM Global, a worldwide convention management company. The Illinois Council of The American Institute of Architects (AIA Illinois) has named McCormick Square one of Illinois’ 200 Great Places, in honor of the state’s Bicentennial. For more info, visit mccormicksquarechicago.com
SAVOR is part of ASM Global’s foodservice group and SAVOR…Chicago manages the foodservice at McCormick Place and the Wintrust Arena. ASM Global was formed from the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG in October 2019 creating a venue management powerhouse that spans five continents, 14 countries and more than 300 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibit centers, and performing arts venues. “We pride ourselves on preparing and serving exceptional food and beverage whether for intimate VIP experiences or banquet events for over 20,000. Besides great, authentic food, the core elements of our food vision include our partnerships with local growers, producers and community members, our commitment to using antibiotic free meats and poultry, and our dedication to minimizing our impact on the environment through our robust sustainability, recycling and composting programs.” For more info, visit savorchicagomcpl.com