|Homeless men crowd around Night Ministry worker handing out toiletries, 2016.|
It isn’t just restaurants and bars, museums and stores.
Organizations that provide food to the poorest and most vulnerable Illinoisans are shutting down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Other social service agencies, like homeless shelters, are struggling to adjust.
In the past two weeks, 112 Chicago-area food pantries have closed; 82 in Cook County — almost a quarter of the 370 food pantries served by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
“The number is shocking” said Greg Trotter, spokesman for depository. “It hurts and it has an impact.”
In the 13 collar counties, another 30 food pantries closed in the past week, according to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, mostly because those who run them don’t want to risk exposure to COVID-19.
“Our pantries largely rely upon the help from volunteers, and a lot of our volunteers tend to be older folks, seniors who have time to spare,” said Liz Gartman, communications manager for the food bank. ”Many of those same folks are taking health precautions very seriously, as they should, so they don’t feel comfortable coming in.”
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