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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, October 26

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Event Sat Dec 22 2012

Do-Gooder Food

What an amazing season this is. The universe basically gives us carte blanche to eat whatever we want, and I, for one, leave no potential meal untouched. However, as much as this season is about single-minded consumption (I'll admit to it!), it's also a beautiful opportunity to give something back to the community we all love so much--Chicago's food community. Our city's amazing soup kitchens and food depositories are always in need of time and help, but below is a list of other Chicago food-based programs to broaden your altruistic/activist horizons.

Food and kids

Besides being a delicious asparagus perennial, Purple Asparagus is a one-of-a-kind food nonprofit that gives school-aged children a foundation to help improve the future of food. Through classroom cooking classes and community outreach, the organization teaches children what food really is, where it comes from, and how to make it into a delicious meal. Volunteer opportunities include assisting cooking instructors and interacting with kids in various Chicagoland schools.

Food and Education
freshmoves.jpgIf you haven't heard of Fresh Moves yet, you're missing out on a great food-related success story. This innovative nonprofit is essentially a farmers' market on wheels: a repurposed CTA bus outfitted with shelves, constantly stocked with fresh and affordable produce. The truck follows a route that takes it to some of Chicago's food deserts, where convenience stores are the main source of food and fresh produce is hard to find. The organization also provides recipes and demos to empower aspiring home cooks. Go visit the bus, donate some money or some time -- you'll be amazed at the big hearts and spirits behind this incredible organization.

Food and Community
soupbread.jpgSoup and Bread celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2013, and remains one of my favorite of Chicago's grassroots charities. The idea is so simple: every Wednesday, usually at its headquarters bar The Hideout, the nonprofit organization doles out free helpings of soup and bread made by local Chicago chefs, home cooks, bakeries, and volunteers of all kinds. All donations go to food-related charities, and so far the organization has raised over $30,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Soup and Bread does good in multiple ways: while raising money, it also fosters a sense of Chicago community that is as diverse and eclectic as the city itself. So go rub shoulders with some other locals, enjoy a free meal, and donate generously.

Food and History
hullhouse.pngThe Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is somewhat of a Chicago hidden gem. This is a museum with a purpose: educate the public about Jane Addams' work and the art and science of the home and community. Featuring a unique "seed library" wherein visitors can "check out" heirloom seeds and plant them in their own gardens, the museum also houses a kitchen and farm to educate visitors about the role and importance of heirloom plants. The museum is closed over the holidays, but welcomes visitors starting January 2 and offers multiple opportunities for event volunteers.

Food and Cooking
firstslice1.pngFirst Slice Café can seem a bit like a bunch of different charities rolled into one -- it offers a multitude of ways to give back. At its original Ravenswood location in the Lillstreet Art Center, the café serves visitors snacks and meals -- including slices of its famous homemade pie. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. This grassroots organization also supplies meals to busy families through a unique self-funding program that passes more meals onto other families in need. If getting your hands dirty and helping to prepare food is your favorite way to help out, this place will definitely be your cup of tea -- or, if you'll permit me, slice of pie.

If you know of any other great Chicago food nonprofits, post them below -- I'd love to hear about them!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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