Twenty-five years ago, our beloved GroceryLand opened its doors and served its first participants!
On Christmas Eve in 1988, a steadfast and caring crew of volunteersled by Heartland Alliance Health's own Lori Cannonbegan delivering hot and nutritious meals to people who were living with, and dying of, AIDS. That dedicated group formed Open Hand Chicago which expanded to deliver meals to people with AIDS across our entire city. Six years later, Lori and her team decided to offer an additional service to their participants: GroceryLanda center where participants could choose their own healthy foods that they could take home to prepare for themselves.
Food, of course, is only part of what Groceryland provides its participants. People come to Groceryland for community, connection and an opportunity to give back. Indeed, a driving force behind all of our Grocery Centers is a legion of dedicated and passionate volunteers who serve our participants with dignity and respect.
I am grateful to Lori and her Groceryland volunteers for blazing a trail to good health for the vulnerable people they serve. I am also humbled by the amazing work done by our entire food and nutrition team across our city. Our South and West side Vital Bridges staff builds on our Open Hand roots while folding in the rich cultural and linguistic attributes of the communities they serve. Our food and nutrition team is spectacular!
Once again, I am honored to recognize the 25th anniversary of our wonderful Groceryland. I'm inspired by its history, proud of its present and excited for its future!
Here is a link to a blog entry by Sun Times columnist Neil Steinberg that recognizes Groceryland's anniversary with a posting of the original article about the center's opening 24 years ago: www.everygoddamnday.com/2019/11/flashback-1994-agency-offering-free.html. [Editor's note: Windy City Times has also run several stories about Groceryland.]
Ed Stellon, MS, MA
Heartland Alliance Health | A Partner of Heartland Alliance