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Nonprofits distribute thousands of pounds of food, PPE in Bronzeville

“We have to recognize that a lot of the pain that’s being caused is because of a lack of information, because of a lack of access to resources,” said Todd Belcore of Social Change, one of the groups that organized the distribution.

Representatives from community groups, advocacy organizations and churches gathered in Bronzeville Friday afternoon to collect their share of thousands of pounds of food and personal protective equipment intended to ease the burden for those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s no question that the amount of pain that this virus has caused is incredible, but at the same time we have to recognize that a lot of the pain that’s being caused is because of a lack of information, because of a lack of access to resources,” said Todd Belcore, executive director of the nonprofit Social Change, one of the groups organizing the distribution.

“We have to respond to that and we also have to respond to the fact that people are terrified,” he added. “Not just terrified by the prospect of getting the virus but also terrified by the fact that they won’t have food to eat.”

The giveaway was in the parking lot of Bronzeville Academy Charter School at 49th and Cottage Grove. As the afternoon progressed, stacks of boxes containing frozen turkey sausage, plant-based chicken nuggets, breakfast sandwiches and pancakes kept shrinking.

Volunteers with SaveMoneySaveLife and Social Change pack boxes of food to distribute to members of the community outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School on the South Side during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday afternoon, May 8, 2020.
Volunteers with SaveMoneySaveLife and Social Change pack boxes of food to distribute to members of the community outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School on the South Side Friday afternoon.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Belcore — quick to remind people to stay six feet away from each other — said Social Change partnered with other organizations to avoid attracting large groups of random individuals, but also to ensure the food and PPE reached as many people as possible.

Belcore said organizers planned to give away as much of the 10,000 pounds of food as they could Friday, though any leftovers were already spoken for and would be delivered in the coming days.

Laundi Keepseagle, the executive director of SaveMoneySaveLife, the nonprofit founded by rapper and South Side native Vic Mensa that also was involved in Friday’s giveaway, said the group has been building and delivering thousands of PPE kits in recent weeks.

“This is what we do,” she said. “This is what we’re here for.”

Todd Belcore, executive director of the nonprofit Social Change, loads boxes of food into a waiting minivan outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School on the South Side, Friday afternoon, May 8, 2020.
Todd Belcore, executive director of the nonprofit Social Change, loads boxes of food into a waiting minivan outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School on the South Side Friday afternoon.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
People line up outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School to receive hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment and food from volunteers with SaveMoneySaveLife and Social Change, Friday afternoon, May 8, 2020.
People line up outside Bronzeville Academy Charter School to receive hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment and food from volunteers with SaveMoneySaveLife and Social Change Friday afternoon.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times