Author Archives: CFRwpress

Annual Holiday Gift Drive

The Care for Real Annual Toy Distribution is one of our community’s most special traditions. While we are unable to invite families into Care for Real to choose toys this year due to the pandemic, we are pleased to find a way to continue the spirit of joy and giving.

This year, we hope for our clients to receive a $20 Target gift card for each child in their family. This will allow us to conduct the distribution safely and promote social distancing while still giving families the opportunity to choose a gift for their child themselves. It also gives families the option to purchase the gift of their choice online or via a curbside pickup at Target. 

Donations for the gift card drive can be made here (add “holiday gift drive” in the special instructions field) or gift cards can be mailed directly to Care for Real Attn: Kate Polgar at 5339 N Sheridan Chicago, IL 60640.  To arrange a drop-off of gift cards at Care for Real, please e-mail We will be collecting now through December 16 and will hold our gift distribution on December 19. 

We also want to gift families of young children with a new picture or board book through our partnership with a local small business, Play Andersonville. Books can be purchased in-store at 5311 N Clark and placed in the Care for Real donation bin. To purchase online, visit the Play website and choose in-store pick up as your delivery method and gift wrapping. For Gift Wrap Occasion please enter “Care for Real.” The kind folks at Play will then add your book donation to our donation bin.

Thank you for your continued generosity as we join together to spread the joy of the holiday season!

Care for Real Appoints New Executive Director

Care for Real Appoints New Executive Director








Chicago, IL, September 9… Care for Real, one of the largest food pantries in the Chicago area, has named Gregory D. Gross as its new executive director.

Gregory has devoted his life in service to others. He is coming to Care for Real from The Night Ministry where he most recently was Director of Learning and Impact. In this role, he directed institutional learning efforts, program and impact evaluation, research partnerships, and data collection and management. 


In making the announcement, Nancy Meyerson, Chair of Care for Real’s Board of Directors, stated, “Gregory brings experience, vision, an analytical mind and a huge heart to Care for Real. Our Board of Directors conducted an extensive search for our new executive director, and we are confident he is the right person to move Care for Real forward. Food pantries are more critical than ever during these difficult times, and we must look at innovative ways to deliver as much food to as many people as possible. Gregory will position us to do that.”     

An ordained clergyperson in The United Methodist Church, Rev. Gross’s ministry has been one of inclusion, racial equity and interreligious service to all those on the margins of society. He earned master’s degrees at both the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and  

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston and has focused on multicultural urban leadership.  

A resident of the Edgewater community, where Care for Real is located, for the last ten years Rev. Gross received numerous awards for his work including the Child Advocate of the Year from United Voices for Children. He has served on the Boards of several religious and community organizations.   

“I am thrilled to be joining the staff and volunteers at Care for Real as we address the hunger and food insecurity of our neighbors. I have known of and supported Care for Real since I first moved to Edgewater and have long been impressed by their commitment to provide for those in need in our community. During this time of much uncertainty, Care for Real is needed now more than ever. With their expansion to serve those in Rogers Park this past Spring, they are now able to touch even more lives. This is an exciting time to become part of this vital work.”

Clothing closet and pet pantry reopen

Pet Pantry and Clothes Closet Reopen for Grateful Clients

It was smiles all around when Care for Real’s Pet Pantry and our free clothing shop, The Closet, resumed operation this month. Both services were suspended when Chicago’s stay-at-home order went into effect and layoffs began.

“We needed to focus on distributing food to our rapidly-growing client base and ensure the safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff,” Board Chair Nancy Meyerson explained. “But we planned on reopening both The Closet and the Pet Pantry as soon as it was practical.”

But like with the way we distribute food, operations in both the Pet Pantry and The Closet changed.

When the Pet Pantry resumed on July 2, clients told volunteers about their pets and their preferences. Volunteers then brought bags and cans of food and treats outside and helped the owners pack their bags. Before COVID-19, owners could themselves shop in the pantry. Still, people were thrilled and grateful to receive high-quality food for their “fur babies.”

Things are different at The Closet as well. Shopping now is by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Clients can sign up for the 15-minute time slots when they come from to the pantry to get groceries. There are three appointments per hour with time between appointments for cleaning high touch areas.

“The Closet is extremely important to our clients. We were eager to provide this service but wanted to be sure we can protect the safety of our shoppers, volunteers, and staff before reopening,” stated Karen Feiler, volunteer coordinator. “

Clients have responded enthusiastically, and appointment book up each day.

The Palatable Pantry July 2020

The Palatable Pantry: Going to the Farmer’s Market

By Sydney Karp Poll, a local holistic health coach, chef and friend of Care for Real

Going to the Farmer’s Market is a treasured summer activity. Every time you go, you’ll find a different selection of produce since the main reason for visiting a market is to get freshly-picked fruits and vegetables.

Shopping with an open mind is key. Even if you can’t buy what you planned for, you will always find something different and delicious that didn’t sit for days in a warehouse or on a truck.

Due to Covid-19, you won’t be able to taste the produce. Instead, talk to the farmers about what you like and ask them to help you pick the perfect fruit or vegetable. For example, tell them if you like sour berries or if you like your berries very juice and sweet. They can guide you to the varietal that you’ll enjoy most.

During the winter, I plan my family’s meals based on recipes I like, but during the summer I let the selection available at the Farmer’s Market guide my meal planning. I get excited by all of the vibrant colors, smells and flavors. You may, too!

Let’s say you see some beautiful summer tomatoes and you just don’t know what to do with them. The obvious answer is to slice them and serve them with olive oil, basil, balsamic vinegar and mozzarella cheese – instant Caprese. But ask the farmer for recommendations, reach out to me, or look on the internet for creative ideas.  

Below are some of my all-time favorite summer recipes with ingredients that you can find at your Farmer’s Market now.

Cucumbers are at the top of my list. Besides the obvious of making pickles, you can quickly make a tasty cucumber salad with ingredients that you might already have at home.


Smashed Cucumber Salad

You can use big or small cucumbers. I prefer the English or Persian ones as they have less seeds and aren’t as watery.


1 English cucumber or 3 small seedless cucumbers

2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or any vinegar you have at home

1 tbsp. of something spicy – can be sriracha, Korean chili flakes or hot chili oil

Sprinkle of salt

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

Tiny pinch of cane sugar

1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place the washed cucumber on a cutting board and place a large, heavy-bladed flat knife on top. Put your hand on top of the flat part of the knife and push down until the cucumber splits open. If the cucumber is longer, cut into smaller pieces before smashing. You’ll be surprised how much fun this is!
  2. Chop the cucumber into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl with salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients to make a spicy sauce.
  4. Drain the water from the cucumbers and make sure they are as dry as possible.
  5. Mix the cucumbers and spicy sauce, [lace them in a serving bowl and top with black pepper. Enjoy with chopsticks or a fork.


Watermelon Feta Salad

This is a great summer favorite. Watermelon is a classic, and you can find fresh feta and small-batch cheeses at many farmer’s markets. You can really taste the difference.


½ watermelon cut into cubes

About 2 cups of cubed cucumber (ideally pickling cucumbers or Persian)

½ cup feta (ideally the kind that comes in the brine)

2 tbsp. lime juice

½ tbsp. honey

½ tbsp olive oil


Black pepper

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Handful fresh mint leaves, chopped

Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Start by making the dressing for the salad. Whisk together the honey, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. While whisking, pour in the olive oil so that it emulsifies completely. Or place ingredients in a screw-top and shake to mix. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning to your liking, I like my dressing on the more acidic side.
  2. Put your watermelon, and cucumbers in your serving bowl and gently tear or roughly chop the herbs and add on top of the fruit. Toss in the dressing.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the salad with Feta and serve.


Baked Cod with Fresh Tomatoes

You can use pretty much any type of fish for this recipe; I happen to like the mildness of cod and how it absorbs the flavor from the tomatoes.


4 cod filets

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes or ones you can find from the Farmer’s Market. Mighty Vine are a great alternative if you are buying at the store. Dice tomatoes if using larger varieties.

5 garlic cloves, smashed

4 tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil

1 lemon sliced

1 tbsp. butter


Black pepper

Handful of herbs, parsley, basil, or chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Put some of the oil on the back of a paper towel and wipe the surface of the baking dish to grease it.
  2. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Wash and cut half of the tomatoes, you can leave the other half whole to get a different texture. Mix the tomatoes with the olive oil, garlic and a bit more salt and pepper. Put the fish in the baking dish and surround the fish with the tomato mixture.
  4. Spread out the lemon slices
  5. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until it becomes flaky to a fork’s touch.
  6. Plate the fish and top with freshly chopped herbs and some of the tomato mixture.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and what time you can spend outside this summer!



PETsCan donation

PETsCan donation

Thank you to Stacy Powell-Bennett, Program Director at PETsCan!, for the generous donation of Petco Gift Certificates. We are incredibly grateful for the support to help provide pet supplies to so many of our neighbors in need.

The Care for Real Pet Pantry re-opens tomorrow from 3-5 pm. at 5339 N Sheridan.

GivingTuesdayNow Save the Date

Join us for #GivingTuesdayNow with Care for Real


Care for Real is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow on Tuesday, May 5th. We ask you to join in and donate to our organization. Our need is extraordinary and it is critical that our neighbors and friends come together and support those who suffer from hunger. 

#GivingTuesdayNow is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. It is an opportunity for people around the world to stand together in unity – to use their individual power of generosity to remain connected and to heal physically and mentally.  

“#GivingTuesdayNow recognizes those who so generously give their time and their dollars to support missions like Care for Real. We are honored to be a part of the event as we unite to assist our neighbors in need,” stated Executive Director Lyle Allen.  

Here are some of the ways the Care for Real community can support us on May 5th:

  • Visit our home page on Tuesday, May 5th to see the impact of #GivingTuesdayNow contributions
  • Make a donation to provide meals to your neighbors in need. Donations can be made early starting today towards our meals total for GivingTuesdayNow
  • Share your story of why you support Care for Real on social media
  • Send a video, photo, drawing or written thank you to Care for Real through e-mail to be shared with our volunteers and staff

Thank you for joining us for #GivingTuesdayNow at Care for Real!








05.05.2020 | ADD TO CALENDAR ICS   Google Calendar




Donating Your Stimulus Check to Fight the Coronavirus






Donating Your Stimulus Check to Fight the Coronavirus

As stimulus checks hit bank accounts this week, we see the same question popping up in neighborhood groups, “Where can I donate my $1,2000 stimulus check locally where it will do the most good?”

Generously, those who still have a steady income despite the coronavirus epidemic, and don’t need the stimulus, want to use this “found money” to help others. At the same time, they want to be sure the funds go to an organization that will use the money wisely to provide the basic needs of those who impacted by the coronavirus

For 49 years, Care for Real has been providing food, clothing and support services to people on the north side of Chicago.

For every $1 donated, 97¢ goes directly to support the food pantry and other services. That $1 will provide enough food to a person to make 4 meals. A $5 dollar donation will feed a person for a week. And the $1200 stimulus check? It will feed a family of four for a full year.

Care for Real operates a huge food pantry program that provides nearly 1.2 million pounds annually to neighbors from all over Chicago, including Andersonville, Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Uptown. The number of people coming to Care for Real for the first time has doubled since the pandemic hit and layoffs began. We have been able to meet this demand thanks to the generous donations from the community. Even a small gift from a stimulus check can make an incredible impact on our ability to continue to help our neighbors.

 Take a look at all the ways Care for Real helps our neighbors in need through challenging times:

The best way to support Coronavirus relief in Edgewater and Andersonville is by giving directly to those organizations providing support like Care for Real. To donate directly to hunger relief on the north side of Chicago, please click here.    

“Everything Will Be OK” Project

“Everything Will Be OK” Project








We are so excited to partner with The Lytle House and Pizzeria Aroma on the “Everything Will Be Ok” project.

The Lytle House Art Initiative is launching Phase II of their “Everything Will Be OK” project to complement their large scale art installation near Broadway and Catalpa.

“Everything Will Be OK” yard signs purchased directly from Pizzeria Aroma for pickup or delivery will have 100% of the proceeds go to Care For Real. The signs are for sale for $20.

Order some pizza for the family, pop the sign in your yard or window, and please help us in spreading this message of hope while raising money for our neighbors who are in need.

The easiest way to order from Pizzeria Aroma is via phone at (773) 769-4900.

CARES Act Increases Deductions for Charitable Contributions

CARES Act Increases Deductions for Charitable Contributions

To encourage more charitable giving during this challenging time, the recently enacted government stimulus bill (the “CARES Act”) provides some additional tax relief for donors. This makes it easier to give and save at the same time. 

  • Expanded charitable giving incentive – The CARES Act creates a new partial above-the-line deduction for cash contributions up to $300 to certain charitable organizations for taxpayers that elect not to itemize deductions.

  • The 60 percent Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limits do not apply to individuals for contributions made in cash during 2020.

  • The limit for contributions from corporations increase from 10 percent of taxable income to 25 percent. These changes would not apply to contributions to a supporting organization or a Donor Advised Fund.  

March 27th COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends,
Our heartfelt thanks for your support of Care for Real over the last two weeks. We are in awe of your generosity. Your contributions are critical for those who are food insecure and rely upon Care for Real for their daily nutrition.
Care for Real is committed to staying open with normal food distribution hours throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. Our extraordinary staff and volunteer force are working incredibly hard making certain our hungry neighbors have food during this difficult time. Like you, we are resolute and reliable.
Elizabeth, a Care for Real food pantry client, was interviewed by ABC 7 this past Saturday and shared a feeling echoed by many of our clients, “Cuts in income, cuts in hours, cuts in resources…this place is dependable.” This is who we help. This is who we are.
Care for Real’s needs continue to surge as the economic impact of COVID-19 escalates. Last week our primary concern was having sufficient cleaning and disinfecting supplies, bags and food for our usual number of pantry visitors. This week our challenge is helping the ever-increasing numbers turning to us. In the last ten days, we have registered more clients than we typically do in one month. This far exceeds our expectations.
Who is coming to our door? They are restaurant servers and salesclerks, hairdressers and yoga teachers, day care workers and consultants whose contracts have been pulled. They are our neighbors who are without income to purchase groceries and are facing food insecurity for the first time. They are the ‘new hungry’. 
We are preparing for a worst-case scenario (such as a staff member on our small team contracting the virus) to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly. We also retained a professional company to clean and sanitize the pantry throughout the week, and there is no end to the janitorial and disinfection supplies needed. Food? There is simply not enough fresh produce and healthy food options to give to everyone. This is compounded by that fact that we are not currently able to accept in-kind donations from the community.
Care for Real is rising to the challenge, and we hope you will join us to meet the increasing need in our very own community. 

Coronavirus Response Fund

Coronavirus Response Fund

Thank you to Block Club Chicago for sharing about the Coronavirus Response Fund started by the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and the 48th Ward Office. The funds will help residents of Edgewater, Andersonville and Uptown deal with the coronavirus outbreak. We are so grateful for our community stepping up and supporting Care for Real and our neighbors in need.