Press Release

Zakat Foundation Marks Hispanic Heritage Month with 33 Tons of Fresh-Food Relief to Chicago-Area Latinx Families

Mexican consulate, government leaders, groups help in 4 food giveaways 

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Chicago (Sept. 17, 2020) — Zakat Foundation of America is honoring Hispanic Heritage Month — and two decades serving the Latin American community — with a 66,000-pound, four-site farm-fresh produce and dairy goods giveaway in pandemic relief for disproportionally distressed low-income, immigrant, and refugee Latinx families in and around Chicago from September 18 to 22. 

“We’re partnering with some great community friends, including the Mexican Consulate celebrating Mexico’s independence, by helping Latinx communities overcome the health and economic burden they’ve been unequally bearing with the onslaught of America’s two viruses, COVID-19 and racism,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation’s executive director. 

“We’ve worked with the broad diversity of Latinx peoples almost since our beginning,” he said. “But our very conscious donors have dramatically stepped up food and PPE aid to them, and other victimized communities across the country, these past seven months. They’ve connected the dots and seen that the vivid color and cultural injustices their neighbors face — from exposure to disease, to bonded poverty, to institutionalized disparity — create unfair odds of debilitation and death.” 

Zakat Foundation has conducted dozens of fresh produce and milk giveaways, providing nearly 2 million pounds of wholesome food to families in cities north and south, and from coast to coast. In the last month alone, the global charity delivered more than 33,500 pounds of farm-fresh produce, not to mention nonperishables and school supplies, in North Carolina, Iowa, Chicago, and elsewhere. 

Partners — international, federal, and local, like Save the Children, 2020 Census, Enlace Chicago, and Rincon Family Services — literally lent their experienced hands, just as numerous officials rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. In Illinois, State Representative Tony Munoz and Congressman Chuy Garcia, along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, all helped out with Zakat Foundation’s distributions. 

More than 6,000 people will benefit from the upcoming four-day Chicago-area fresh-food distribution of produce boxes packed with 25 pounds of colorful, farm-fresh tomatoes, apples, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, carrots, asparagus, onions, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. 

In addition, families will receive 30-pound cartons of dairy stocks, including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and other products. 

"First Trinity has been responding to food insecurity in Bridgeport for years,” said Pastor Nicolette Peñaranda. “We are grateful to be in partnership with the Zakat Foundation of America and our other community partners to ensure that our neighbors will get the resources they need during COVID.” 

"Bridgeport is often overlooked in the conversation of food insecurity,” he said, “but as a ministry who has been feeding Bridgeport for over a decade, that is not the case.” 

Honoring the Rich American Latinx Contribution 

Hispanic Heritage Month, which began by congressional declaration as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, grew formally to a month in 1988. It actually takes in two months, running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, to put it in line with the independence days of a swath of Latin American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, all on Sept. 15, with Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrating self-rule on Sept. 16, 18, and 21, respectively. 

The U.S.’s Hispanic population hit 60.6 million last year, up from 50.7 million nearly a decade earlier, in 2010. That’s 18% of the nation’s people, a 13 point rise since 1970. 

Mexican Americans number 37 million, a bit more than 60% of all Hispanic peoples in the country, followed by Puerto Ricans at 5.8 million, with an additional 3.2 million living as citizens on the island itself. Cubans, Salvadorans, and Dominicans each claim U.S. populations of more than 2 million, while Guatemalans and Colombians have more than a million U.S. residents each, with Hondurans close behind. With the exception of Colombians, these last-named three countries feed the fastest growing Latino American populations in the U.S., along with Venezuelans, who number nearly half a million, a 106% increase since 2010. 

Contrary to the hype, 80% of Latinos in the U.S. — 4 out of every 5 — are U.S. citizens, with Hispanic immigration declining. That means that 32 million Latinos can vote in the upcoming elections, a 5 million voice increase since the 2016 elections. Chicago holds the fifth highest urban Hispanic population in the U.S. 

Fresh-Food Distribution Sites and Times 

1. Consulate General of Mexico – 9/18/2020 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

204 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60607 

The first food distribution (300 25-pound boxes of fresh produce plus 300 30-pound cartons of dairy products) will take place Friday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or until packages run out, at the Near West Side neighborhood location of Zakat Foundation’s event cohost, the Consulate General of Mexico (Consulado General de México en Chicago), 204 S. Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60607. 

Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil, Counsul General of Mexico in Chicago, and Sandra Patricia Mendoza Duran, Second Secretary, Communities and Educational Affairs, will help with the distribution. 

The Consulate selected the week of Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, to help West Loop-area residents in need whose forefathers came from Mexico or who are themselves more recent immigrants. 

2. Township of Lyons – 9/19/2020 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

6404 Joliet Rd, Countryside, IL 60525 

On Saturday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or as long as food packages remain, Zakat Foundation will distribute 300 25-pound boxes of fresh produce plus 300 30-pound cartons of dairy goods to families at the Township of Lyons government offices, 6404 Joliet Rd, Countryside, IL 60525. 

Illinois State Senator Celina Villanueva, of South Lawndale’s Little Village neighborhood (South Lawndale is home to Chicago’s largest foreign-born Mexican population), and State Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. of Summit, Illinois will aid in the food giveaway. 

The mayors of Summit and Bridgeview, Illinois, along with Summit and Bridgeview park district and library representatives may also lend a hand in the food distribution. 

Zakat Foundation’s partners for the giveaway, in addition to the Township of Lyons, include the League of Women Voters (La Grange, Illinois), Arab American Services, The Southwest Collective, Saawtu, Empower Southwest, Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. 

3. Old Neighborhood Italian American Club – 9/21/2020 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

3031 S Shields Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 

Zakat Foundation’s Near South Side community free-food distribution of 300 25-pound boxes of fresh produce and 300 30-pound cartons of dairy foods will begin Monday, Sept. 21, at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or as long as food packages last. The Old Neighborhood Italian American Club at 3031 S. Shields Ave, Chicago, IL 60616 will serve as the location for the giveaway. 

The free-food distribution will also serve the locally hard hit Asian American community, who make up about 34% of the ward, in addition to their underserved Latinx neighbors, who comprise 23% of its residents. 

“At a time when so many families are experiencing difficulties, I’m grateful to generous organizations like Zakat Foundation for partnering with us to offer some help to my constituents,” said State Rep. Theresa Mah of the 2nd District, who will take part in the distribution. Mah is the first Asian American to serve in the Illinois House and a University of Chicago Ph.D. and former professor. 

John P. Daley, 11th Ward Democratic Committeeman in Chicago, Cook County Board of Commissioners member, and son of Chicago’s former mayor Richard J. Daley, will also help in giving the food, as will 11th Ward Alderman Patrick D. Thompson. The 11th Ward includes Chicago’s famed Bridgeport community, as well as Armour Square, McKinley Park, Fuller Park, and New City. 

Food distribution partners include the Bridgeport Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, Cornerstone Anglican Church, Park Community Church, Coalition For a Better Chinese American Community, Pui Tak Center, and the Chinese Christian Union Church. 

4. Waukegan, IL Food Distribution – 9/22/2020 – 12 noon - 1 p.m. 

2401 Grand Ave. Waukegan, IL 60085 (Grand Slam Laundry) 

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, from noon to 1 p.m., Zakat Foundation will distribute 300 much-needed 25-pound boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with another 300 30-pound cartons of dairy goods to the underserved of Waukegan in Lake County, Illinois, about 35 miles north of Downtown Chicago. 

“We will pay honor to Latinx Heritage Month by saluting them united together with all the entities of government here in Waukegan and Lake County Illinois up to the federal level by serving our community during this great time of crisis,” said Julie Contreras ED and Pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary, who’ll be working at the giveaway. 

State Rep. Rita Mayfield of the 60th District, Mayor of Waukegan Sam Cunningham, Congressman Brad Schneider, Waukegan Chief of Police Wayne Walles, Fire Chief George Bridges, Attorneys Manuel Cardenas, Gloria Rodriguez, and Eric Reinhart will all join us to bring relief and hope to those most distressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Zakat Foundation’s partners in this food distribution, in addition to Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary, include LUMC, Medline, Lake County U.S. Census Team, Grand Slam Laundry (where the distribution will take place), the Justice for Abel Campaign, and the Justice for Justus Campaign.