This year the Chi-Town Jazz Festival has chosen Care for Real again as one of the recipients of our fundraising efforts. Care for Real was established in 1970 by Rev. William Johnson of the Epsicopal Church of the Atonement, Rabbi Herman Schaalman of Emanuel Congregation and other members of the Edgewater Clerical Rabbinical Association. This organization, which is now known as the Edgewater Community Religious Association (ECRA), wanted to provide emergency help to victims of fires in “Arson Alley,” the Kenmore-Winthrop corridor between Foster and Devon. It was intended to be a short-term solution to a specific problem. However, it soon became clear that there was a need in Edgewater for an ongoing safety net for neighbors in need. Today Care for Real is the safety net for the entire Edgewater community.
Clients can come to Care for Real once a month for staple food items…rice, beans, peanut butter, etc. Plus, they can come up to four times a week for the fresh produce and bread that is so generously donated by neighborhood groceries and bakeries. Yet the average CFR client “shops” for staples at the pantry just seven times a year. CFR is their safety net during especially hard times.
On average, CFR distributes almost 60,000 pounds of food each month. We purchase most of our staple foods from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Local retailers, including Costco, 7-11, Aldi’s, Swedish Bakery, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, True Nature Foods and Panera Cares, regularly donate produce and bakery goods. And the community supports Care for Real with individual donations and food drives sponsored by houses of worship, schools, businesses, block clubs and residential buildings.