personal work- Chicago Food Depository

After the Global Financial Crisis began in 2007, the number of people that required assistance getting enough food to eat soared while personal and corporate donations to the Greater Chicago Food Depository plummeted. After the recession began the Food Depository was stretched to its limit and in late 2007 its warehouse briefly went bare. A huge outpouring of volunteers and donations were able to restock the warehouse and allow it to end the year helping tens of thousands of people. The Food Depository warehouse is the central collection, sorting and distribution centre for food that is needed to cover a region of the country that hosts a population of 12 million people. In 2009 48 million pounds of food were distributed, 11 million of which were fresh fruit and vegetables. The food collected there is sorted by employees and an army volunteers and prepared to be shipped to organisations in the Food Depository network throughout Chicago. The Food Depository also provides emergency meal assistance to people who have been displaced from their homes due to calamity, like fire and floods.

In 2009 I began working with the Chicago Food Depository documenting the organisations within their network that provide food, clothing and support for people in need in the Chicago area. I spent more than a year going around the the broader Chicago area documenting the food banks, soup kitchens, pantries and churches that were responsible for handing out food and clothing to the needy. The pictures were used by the Chicago Food Depository to illustrate to existing and potential donors and volunteers what the Food Depository did and who it served. The photographs were also used in communities to reach out to those who needed help but hadn’t sought it because of the associated stigmas of needing meal assistance. Not everyone who needed help was jobless or homeless and many of the people who depended on meal assistance were employed but still had difficulty making ends meet. In 2009, 90,000 people received meal assistance on a weekly basis in the Chicago area and many more individuals received part of the 95,000 meals provided every day. Of those, 39 percent were households with at least one working adult and 33 percent of the recipients were children.

Below are some of the images that I shot over that year.