Fresh Produce Days with YLS

fresh produce

In an effort to continue to the United Way Young Leaders Society (YLS) focus on volunteerism, several committee members participated in Fresh Produce Days at the Kelley Hall YMCA in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood on November 2nd. United Way, along with several other volunteer organizations, come together to provide fresh produce and basic grocery staples to residents in communities of greatest need.

Fresh Produce Days happen the first Saturday of every month in the parking lot of the Kelly Hall YMCA. Volunteers are divided into two groups: those who work to distribute the grocery items to the community residents and those who walk around through with community members as personal shoppers to gather fresh produce. It is awe-inspiring to see the sheer number of community members in need as they line up in the hundreds to receive these grocery items. All of the neighborhood residents are kind and eager to talk while they walk through the “shopping” area. Our YLS volunteers were lucky enough to be the group acting as residents’ personal shoppers. It afforded us a unique opportunity to get to know them.

Personally, Fresh Produce Days provided me an interesting comparison to time I have spent at the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD). GCFD distributes food to many of the shelters in the Chicagoland area and from there are distributed to residents. For example, large pallets of pasta are often donated but then need to be broken down into one pound bags to distribute the associated shelters. So while I was still doing my part to help end hunger in the Chicagoland area, I did not get the opportunity for one-on-one engagement with neighborhood residents as I did at Kelly Hall YMCA.

I very much appreciated the opportunity YLS provided to be involved in the community and meet the impacted residents. Chicagoland has a huge need and YLS is working to contribute to the LIVE UNITED 2020 community-impact plan through awareness, volunteerism, and fundraising. You can help us realize this vision by becoming a member, lending a hand to volunteer, or attending our annual Festivus event.

Submitted on behalf of Michelle Tesch, YLS Community Outreach Member