Giving back is on the menu

Trio of fundraisers feature food-focused partnerships

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Melissa Elsmo

Food Editor

Even during these challenging times, a boutique grocery store and numerous local restaurants have chosen to support a trio of local philanthropies. Thanks to more than a dozen generous restaurants our community can fight domestic violence, homelessness and food insecurity one bite at a time.

Sarah's Inn/Groceries Doing Good

Domestic violence is on the rise as a result of the pandemic according to Carol Gall, executive director of Sarah's Inn. A unique partnership with Carnival Grocery, 824 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, is designed to help the organization raise funds to provide the resources necessary to support victims and their families.

"We are thrilled that Carnival Grocery has provided such a unique and generous opportunity for the community to support Sarah's Inn," said Gall. "With both National Domestic Violence Action Month and Sarah's Inn's 40th Anniversary in October, this partnership came together at the perfect time. "

Carnival's "Groceries Doing Good" program provides an opportunity for customers to support local charities by purchasing the groceries they normally purchase. Through the end of October any Carnival shopper who mentions "Sarah's Inn Account 2021" will have 20 percent of their total grocery bill donated to Forest Park based Sarah's Inn.

"Supporting local non-profits has always been a priority for me and I am thrilled they are partnering with Carnival as part of their 40 Year celebration," said Carnival owner, Arthur Paris. "We're looking forward to welcoming supporters of Sarah's Inn, doing all we can do contribute to their mission, and partnering with other local non-profits in the future."


Beyond Hunger/Dine Out for Hunger

Due to COVID-19 job losses, large numbers of Americans are facing food insecurity for the first time.

While always essential, food pantries have become even more critical during the global pandemic.

September is Hunger Action Month and Beyond Hunger, 848 Lake St., Oak Park, has partnered with several local restaurants to raise awareness and keep the pantry stocked.

"We are very lucky," said Teri Miller, Beyond Hunger's development director. "Our local restaurants are always willing to work with non-profits."

In addition to encouraging anti-hunger advocates to play Hunger Action Bingo, Beyond Hunger's mission has inspired Lou Malnati's, Cucina Paradiso, Big Guys Sausage Stand and One Lake Brewing to give back in creative ways like matching donations or donating a percentage of their food sales. Additionally, Buzz Café, Mulata Café, Jimmy's Place and One Lake Brewing will have donation jars out in their restaurants throughout the month of September.

"All of the restaurants have been upbeat and excited to support Beyond Hunger," said Miller. "We hope this event opens up conversations and people participate in Hunger Action Month."

Details can be found on Beyond Hunger's website.


Housing Forward/Feast for Good

For more than a decade, Housing Forward, 1851 S. 9th Ave., Maywood. partnered with local restaurants to host an annual progressive dinner to raise funds for their mission to transition individuals from "housing crisis to housing stability." COVID-19 turned the world upside-down capsizing the legacy event and forcing the team to rethink its approach to their annual fundraiser.

Erik Johnson, development and communications chief at Housing Forward, is excited about the virtual "Feast for Good" benefiting Housing Forward. The month-long event encourages community members to help end homelessness by supporting a rotating group of local restaurants which have committed to give back 10-20 percent of dine in and carry-out sales.

Participating restaurants include Billy Bricks Wood Fired Pizza (September 2-8), Kettlestrings Tavern and Connie's Family Restaurant (September 9-15), Jimmy's Place and New Rose Catering (September 16-22), and Cucina Paradiso and Big Guys Sausage Stand (September 23-29).

"We took a leap," said Johnson. "We were pleasantly surprised how generous our restaurant partners have been especially during these difficult times. These restaurants are our heroes because they want to feed our mission."

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