By noon last week on Friday, cars lined South Ernie Krueger Circle and spilled onto Sunset Avenue as they made their way to Busy Bee Children’s Center. Families excitedly waved as they waited for the “Thanksgiving Dinner Box Giveaway” event to start, an event hosted by Top Box Foods and One Hope United to distribute 200 free meal kits to families in Waukegan, Illinois, and the surrounding area.

This pop-up event was one of many created by Top Box Foods, a Chicagoland nonprofit. With more than 33 million people in the U.S. living in food-insecure households, the nonprofit partnered with other local organizations and sponsors to share Thanksgiving meal kits with communities in an effort to combat food insecurity during the holiday season. Across the U.S. the price of food is steadily on the rise due to factors like the increased cost of fuel. This year alone, the average cost of a classic Thanksgiving dinner increased 20% from last year, according to data from the Farm Bureau’s annual survey report.

OHU’s Early Learning and Child Development’s Director of Programs, Shanta Payton said, “Since COVID, communities such as Waukegan are seeing an increase in unemployment and food insecurity. A recent Community Needs Assessment completed by Start Early showed that 38.2% of families in Waukegan live in extreme poverty. Some families we serve do not have the financial resources to afford food which is why this event is so important.”

The community support in Waukegan was felt by everyone from the event organizers greeting guests to the attendees that shared the event and carpooled with friends to Busy Bee Children’s Center. Even with freezing temperatures and a few snowflakes, Hope Members were all smiles as they unloaded hundreds of boxes from the Top Box Foods truck. As families drove up to the giveaway station, Hope Members loaded up their cars with two boxes filled with Thanksgiving meal kits that included a frozen whole chicken, dry goods, and produce.

“Top Box Foods is a well-respected company that aims to provide families with healthy, affordable food. This is well-needed for the families we serve. We look forward to partnering with this organization again in the future,” Payton said.

A special thank you to the event sponsors, Humana and the American Diabetes Association. Because of their generous support, this event was possible!

Let’s take action to fight food insecurity this holiday season. Need ideas?

  • Volunteer at your local food bank, meal center, or with an organization like Top Box Foods. Find your local food bank by calling 2-1-1 or by visiting 211.org.
  • Donate food or supplies to your local food bank. Many food banks operate off donations. Check with the food bank to find out what items (e.g. dry goods, produce, dairy, and frozen meats) are most needed.
  • Organize your own food drive. Ask your friends and family to collect canned food and dry goods and donate to your local food bank.

To learn more about our upcoming community events follow One Hope United on Facebook.

 

About Top Box Foods

Top Box Foods is a year-round resource for affordable, nutritious fresh fruit, vegetables, and proteins for anyone and everyone who want to bring healthy food home, and help their neighbors do the same. As a nonprofit community-based organization, Top Box Foods focuses its work in food deserts to increase access to healthy and affordable food with the help of great neighborhood partners, the crucial involvement of volunteers, and generous corporate sponsors. For more information or to find a Top Box Foods location near you go to www.topboxfoods.com.