A growing number of Americans are going hungry. According to recent estimates, some 37 million people obtain their meals through food banks in the U.S. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is a good example. Last year alone, some 700,000 Cook County residents received 69 million pounds of dry goods like pasta and beans, as well as fresh produce, fruit, meat and dairy products from the food bank. Slice it another way, that’s 145,000 meals every day. Recession and unemployment pushed the numbers up by more than a third over the last four years.
“We’re in a difficult time right now,” says Kate Maehr, the food depository’s executive director. “We have a record number of hungry people who are turning to [food banks] for help. We need strong partners, partners like GE who can give time and financial support.”
GE has been listening. The company just wrote the food bank a $100,000 check that will pay for critical food supplies, keep delivery trucks running, and help stock soup kitchens. The award brings the total GE has given to the depository to roughly $500,000.
But there’s more. Hundreds of GE workers have also volunteered thousands of hours of their time and helped sort food at the food bank’s warehouse, load it into trucks and ship it to Cook County’s 650 pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens. “We know that [GE employees] have demands, many of them have responsibilities that span the globe” Maehr says. “[But] the impact that they have is so huge.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski, and Alderman Mike Zalewski were all present at the award ceremony today. “GE, in addition to being a world-leading company, is an exemplary corporate citizen in Chicago,” Emanuel said. “I commend GE and GE’s employees for their commitment and contributions to the strength and vitality of communities throughout Chicago.”
In May 2011, GE Capital announced that it would add 1,000 jobs in Chicago by 2014. That goal is on target.
Today’s announcement in Chicago was part of a larger Community Day effort across the city and its surrounding suburbs that included nearly 800 volunteers across five volunteer locations, including the Special Olympics Spring Games and Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center.
Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, was present at the awards ceremony with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, GE State Government Relations Manager Patrick Theisen, Managing Director for Chicago Business Development at GE Capital – Americas Linda Fiore, and Alderman Mike Zalewski