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A Better Chicago Announces Plan to Provide Meals for Chicago Public School Students, Address Food Insecurity During COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by A Better Chicago on Jun 12, 2020

As the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) academic year draws to a close, A Better Chicago, a venture philanthropy fund fighting poverty by investing in initiatives that serve low-income youth, announced a collaboration with World Central Kitchen (WCK), founded by chef and humanitarian José Andrés, to provide meals to CPS students and their families. The initiative is leveraging $125,000 from A Better Chicago and the Finnegan Family Foundation to  provide students and their families with two additional meals per week, more than 11,000 meals, to the more than 5,000 households that CPS is serving weekly via meal delivery.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn also announced today that he will match donations made to support the meal program through the last week of school, June 19, up to $15,000. This would provide an additional $30,000 to the partnership, allowing WCK and CPS to distribute more meals into the summer months.

“I’m matching donations up to $15,000 because it’s one way we all can come together to support our community, especially our neighbors who are struggling with hunger during the pandemic,” said Cleveland Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn. “I’ve lived in Chicago for almost a decade and am proud to partner with A Better Chicago to give back during these challenging times. If you’re able to give, I encourage you to donate before the end of the school year.”

Throughout the pandemic and school closures, CPS has continued to provide students with weekday breakfast and lunch. However, amid the crisis there is an ongoing need to provide additional food for students and their families. CPS has made meal delivery available for families with barriers to accessing food from school pick-up sites, such as lack of access to public transit or health concerns. This particularly vulnerable population will be the recipients of WCK meals. Meals will be distributed along with the CPS breakfast/lunch kits already being delivered. All funds donated by A Better Chicago, including those raised through the Clayborn match campaign, will go directly to meals.

“Where there is a need, we want to be there to help,” said Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen. “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing dramatic and sometimes tragic changes in students’ lives. There’s record unemployment, drastically-altered academic schedules, loss of income, and for some students, the loss of a family member. World Central Kitchen is proud to work with A Better Chicago to bring some stability during this difficult time.”

“This year is anything but normal for the thousands of young Chicagoans and their families who depend on public schools for meals,” said Beth Swanson, A Better Chicago CEO. “As the pandemic continues to impact Chicagoans, our students are managing grief after losing family members to the disease, the mental health impact of shutting down schools, and worsening food insecurity as family members lose jobs. Low-income communities and communities of color have been hardest hit and will be doing the work of recovery for months and years to come. By joining forces with World Central Kitchen and generous donors like Adrian, we are striving to lessen that burden by bringing thousands of additional meals to Chicago kitchen tables each week.” 

To donate, visit In addition to its collaboration with WCK, A Better Chicago recently launched a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund that already has distributed more than $1.5 million to support organizations serving Chicago-area youth and families since early April. Learn more at

About A Better Chicago

A Better Chicago is fighting poverty by leveraging the collective power of Chicagoans who want to make our city more equitable for everyone. We raise funds through public donations and direct those resources to support low-income, underserved communities. We find high-potential, high-impact programs and leaders that serve young people from cradle to career. Then, we invest both dollars and strategic support to empower organizations to grow and make an even greater impact. We know that giving our young people the support and tools they need to thrive—a great education, a wage that can sustain a family, the ability to buy a home and live in a safe community—can lead to breaking the cycle of poverty for this generation and generations to come.

Since 2010, we have raised nearly $40 million, invested in dozens of nonprofit organizations and supported over 100 capacity-building projects—ranging from strategic planning to leadership development—to strengthen the organizational capacity of our grantees. In total, our portfolio serves over 32,000 youth annually in the Chicago area. Learn more at


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