Southwest Side alderman delivers lunches to Chicago Police officers citywide

Ald. Matt O’Shea has paid to deliver meals to hospitals, police and fire stations. Now, with Tuesday’s citywide lunch, delivered by O’Shea’s staff and participating restaurants, the tally of all meals likely will surpass 5,000.

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Four people were injured in a hit-and-run on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Ald. Matt O’Shea started a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for meals for first responders. On Tuesday, he delivered lunch to all 22 Chicago Police Department districts.

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Ever since the coronavirus started bearing down on Chicago, Ald Matt O’Shea (19th) has been raising money and delivering meals to hospital workers and first-responders on the front lines of the city’s war against the pandemic.

On Tuesday, he shifted into overdrive — delivering roughly 2,000 lunches to all 22 district police stations, three detective divisions and to Chicago Police headquarters at 35th and State streets.

“You and I know how dangerous a job it is on any given day. [But] these officers and the fear they’re living with doing their job with the potential of getting themselves infected and bringing this virus into their homes to their children or their parents. It’s that much more stressful and we’ve seen it. We’ve lost officers. And we’ve got over 200 infected,” said O’Shea, whose Far Southwest Side ward is home to scores of Chicago police officers.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by how many people have called or emailed to say, `Can I help you deliver those meals?’ They themselves may be out of work, but they want to make a donation … by helping to pay for the lunch. People just want to step up and do something positive.”

The benefit is two-fold. Not only is the lunch-on-wheels program filling the stomachs and warming the hearts of police officers on the front lines of Chicago’s war against the coronavirus. It’s also filling the empty coffers of Beverly and Morgan Park restaurants forced to close to dine-in customers during the pandemic. There’s no discount.

Restaurants are getting full price for their “quality meals” — ranging from pizza, club sandwiches and pasta to salads and cheeseburgers.

Years ago, O’Shea started a non-profit he called the 19th Ward Youth Foundation to support charitable causes in his ward. When the coronavirus hit, he started a companion GoFundMe page that raised $82,000 in just three weeks.

He used the money to deliver meals to hospitals, police and fire stations. Tuesday’s citywide lunch for Chicago police officers — delivered by O’Shea’s aldermanic staff and participating restaurants themselves — is expected to bring the number of meals delivered to first-responders to “north of 5,000.”

At a time when yesterday, today and tomorrow are pretty much the same, O’Shea said he’s trying to make the day different by providing a beacon of hope.

“You want to support your community and show strength and provide hope and say, `Hey, we’re gonna get through this, but we care,” said O’Shea, one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s closest City Council allies.

“I’m lucky enough to represent a neighborhood that truly does care.”

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