Down to the River
May 5, 2009 10:37 AM
Last Friday evening, Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway and I stopped by the River Food Pantry on the City's far Northeast Side in the 12th Aldermanic District. We were invited by the pantry's founders, Jenny and Andy Czerkas.
I was so impressed by what I experienced. The Czerkas have taken an old warehouse and transformed it. Not only is there a food pantry, but on Friday night I also found a community. The pantry serves meals a few nights a week, but it's not just a meal. It's a positive experience. The food three choices of excellent chicken breast, a baked potato and corn on the night I was there is served on real plates with cutlery. No Styrofoam and plastic. The tables have table clothes and flowers. A very good Irish string band was playing at the head of the room. In short, it was about a good meal, but it wasn't just about that. It was about sharing the dignity of a good meal with friends.
Even though the room was full, the Czekas told me that it was a quiet night. They explained that the beginning of the month is usually slower and that they have more customers toward the end of the month as the last paycheck becomes more of a distant memory.
As our economy continues to lag, it's good to remember that any of us could be in need of a good meal. The River Food Pantry like so many other service providers in our community seems to know how to provide for that need while also respecting the dignity of those who need a helping hand.