Just before last Thanksgiving, a very special guest arrived at the Greater Chicago Food Depository to volunteer.

Walking into the building shouting “Happy Thanksgiving!” and wearing a White Sox hat, former President Barack Obama shocked and delighted dozens of volunteers who were there for a repack session.

“They do great work making sure that those who aren’t as fortunate are able to enjoy the kind of Thanksgiving meal that so many of us take for granted,” Obama said of the Food Depository.

We share the 44th president’s admiration for the thousands of volunteers who support the Food Depository’s mission of ending hunger each year. Simply put, volunteers are the lifeblood of our work. We are so very grateful for their help each and every day of the year.

“Hope requires action!”

Former President Barack Obama

In fiscal year 2019, more than 18,300 volunteers pitched in for more than 82,000 hours of service. On most days, you’ll find large groups of them – mostly hailing from schools, churches and businesses – at the Food Depository, repacking food for their neighbors in need.

Volunteers also help at out at Fresh Truck visits to health clinics, on Lunch Bus routes providing summer meals, and with distributions to food pantries and shelter throughout Cook County. They help us at events like the Hunger Walk and in our advocacy efforts to promote compassionate and prudent policy for people facing hunger.

This summer, we launched our eight-week Food Justice Leadership Program, in which high school students learned about the causes of hunger, volunteered in the community and developed their own service projects.

We are so very grateful.

Photo courtesy of the Obama Foundation