While we traditionally served sit-down meals at Inspiration Cafe in Uptown, we have modified and expanded meals production to meet rising need resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, meals packaged to-go are distributed from the Cafe each day to any community member in need, following strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines.
We have continued to see consistently high levels of need in the Uptown community, with over 22,000 meals produced and distributed from that location during just the first five months of our fiscal year.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we also began producing nutritious meals at Inspiration Kitchens, our social enterprise restaurant and training facility, to meet the rising need for emergency food assistance in the City of Chicago. Meals are delivered directly to people experiencing homelessness and poverty through a collection of partner organizations, including several shelters and transitional housing programs. Since April, over 13,000 meals have been produced at Inspiration Kitchens for six different organizations. With full funding, we will have the capacity to produce as many as 91,000 meals.
Compared to our previous fiscal year, the average number of meals produced and distributed by Inspiration Corporation has more than tripled during the current fiscal year, with more than 6,000 meals being produced on average each month.
These prepared meals from Inspiration Cafe and Inspiration Kitchens fill a distinct need in the community. Those experiencing homelessness and poverty often lack the kitchen utilities necessary to prepare food, and these prepared meals will help increase their nutrition by offering hot, healthy options. Meals incorporate fresh produce from local farms and our restaurant garden, promoting healthy eating while also supporting the local economy and food system. Meals production at Inspiration Kitchens also provide employment and income opportunities for community members who have completed our job training program.
The increased need we’ve seen at Inspiration Cafe, and heard about from those we’re supporting through Inspiration Kitchens, has not abated. We are dedicated to continuing to do everything we can to help meet this incredibly high need, and continued support from supporters like you will be absolutely vital!