A Chicago nonprofit is reinventing the food bank

Reasons To Be Cheerful

What If Donated Food Was Delightful?

A Chicago nonprofit is reinventing the food bank with better-than-store-bought produce, friendly delivery and an emphasis on client satisfaction.

Dion Dawson’s day starts around 8 a.m. at the corner of 59th Street and Racine Avenue in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Most days, his six-year-old son Bryson accompanies him, eager to help stock the community fridge labeled with “FREE FOOD” in sky blue letters. Usually, area residents have already gathered around the fridge, which has been spray-painted with happy cows, bright red apples, yellow corn and potatoes, as Dawson puts in oranges, lettuce and strawberries. He hands out bananas and grapes, too.

Dawson set up the Chicago nonprofit Dion’s Chicago Dream and the community fridge in 2020. He added a free weekly produce home delivery service in 2021. Both address the lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables endemic to food deserts — areas that lack supermarkets and are typically low-income. They are also inspired by Dawson’s past food insecurity as well as his negative experience with donation boxes from food banks.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.