During this pandemic, it’s crucial we continue to speak up for those suffering—animals and people. As head organizer for Mercy For Animals in Chicago, I unite volunteers, organize and lead events, and increase awareness about animal rights and a plant-based lifestyle. When I heard about the Plants to the People project in New York—where Mercy For Animals partnered with America’s largest vegetarian hunger-relief organization and donated 2,000 meals to those in need—I reached out to our organizing specialist at Mercy For Animals and proposed replicating the project in Chicago.
I am a teacher in West Humboldt Park, so every day I see the challenges many families in the community experience. Poverty, food insecurity, and violence are major issues for many of my students’ families. As a teacher, I have always been honest with students about my vegan lifestyle, reading and discussing related stories, showing pictures of my visits to sanctuaries, and sharing my lunch with them. I believe we must make plant-based options accessible to everyone, no matter their location or financial situation.
Our Plants to the People planning team worked together to select a partner organization, contact local restaurants, arrange pickup and delivery times, create menus, and provide literature. We chose I Grow Chicago as our partner because of their commitment to addressing food insecurity in poverty-stricken areas. From the moment we first contacted Director of Programs Ken Johnson, we were impressed and inspired by his professionalism and commitment to the community. He and his team were a pleasure to collaborate with and greatly appreciated our help in providing plant-based options for the community.
Through this project, we were able to support five local businesses—Ste Martaen, Libby’s Corner, Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, Soul Vegetarian, and Majani—each of which provided 50 plant-based meals! In total, we gave 250 nutritious meals to members of the Englewood community and exposed them to plant-based restaurants in their neighborhoods. These meals were packed with flavor and made with love, as the whole team wanted to ensure everyone was being taken care of and supported during these uncertain times. We are truly stronger when we work together!
My goals for Chicago are to build a strong community to advocate for animals. We will accomplish this by holding living-room-friendly action parties to work on projects and campaigns, collaborating in all communities, spreading awareness, and providing outreach. If you are interested in joining our Chicago advocate community, please email us at Organizing@MercyForAnimals.org.
You can also sign up for our volunteer list at MercyForAnimals.org/action-center. This is just the beginning for Chicago! We are excited to make huge strides in the coming year.