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Chicago Market Goes Bananas Over Organization Transforming Homelessness

Spend even a small amount of time on the Chicago Market website, and you know “community” is central to us. The Co-op cares so deeply about community, in fact, we made it a part of our founding mission. Heck - the word is even in our name! We call ourselves

“Chicago Market – a Community Co-op.”

It stands to reason, then, that our Co-op is doing whatever it can to partner with organizations likewise committed to the well-being of all members of our Chicago community…housed or not.

Organizations like the Chicago chapter of Back on My Feet (BoMF).

A national nonprofit with 12 city chapters nationwide (including Chicago), BoMF seeks to revolutionize the way society combats homelessness through a unique running-based model. They believe that once confidence, strength and self-efficacy are restored, people are much better equipped to effectively make the transition to jobs, homes – and new lives.

To help people who are homeless get back on their feet, BoMF bolsters their running model with a broad array of support, including housing and employment resources.

Chicago Chapter Director Meredith Weber says that on thrice-weekly runs at the brink of dawn (5:45 am no less), “BoMF clients and volunteers begin by first coming together in a circle as runners. Dressed in running gear, looking across the circle at one another, we’re equals. With each daily run, we’re changing the face of what most people identify as ‘homeless.’”

By helping its members become strong and confident runners, BoMF believes they’re also building the accountability and dependability muscles that are key to being self-supporting. In the end, clients and volunteers support one another to take the steps required to make life changes – no matter what those changes may entail.

With the Wilson El station a probable site for the Co-op, Weber is especially glad to have forged a partnership with Chicago Market. Why? As it turns out, one of BoMF’s three Chicago-based running sites is Northside Community Housing, Inc., perched close-by at Lawrence and Sheridan.

“We anticipate the Co-op will be a great employment partner,” Weber notes. “Our part will be to prepare, refer and personally vouch for the candidates we send, while the Co-op promises to interview and potentially hire our members and help them through the employment process – which some of them may be undertaking for the very first time.” Her plan is to eventually provide a pipeline of vetted and qualified candidates for Chicago Market.

So, what’s with the reference, you ask?

To demonstrate our support for BoMF, for the last two years the Co-op has donated 10 cases of bright yellow organic bananas to buoy the runners who cross the finish line at BoMF’s annual Mardi Gras Chaser 5/10K.

One might consider each organizations’ goals – Chicago Market’s aim to restore transparency, sustainability and fairness to the local food supply and BoMF’s desire to revolutionize homelessness – as über-lofty. Off the charts, even. But one Owner at a time, one kilometer at a time, we’ll both get there. Just you watch and see.


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