All Stories

The Power of the Walk

Since its inception in 1992, Breakthrough has gathered its supporters for the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Hunger Walk, Chicago’s largest anti-hunger rally. This year, on September 16, Breakthrough will join the Hunger Walk again for the 25th year in a row, in a continued effort to raise awareness and funds for Breakthrough’s food services.

All money raised at the Hunger Walk is credited to Breakthrough’s account with the GCFD, which provides groceries for the Breakthrough Fresh Market and the kitchens that serve our homeless guests.

Each year, Breakthrough serves 70,000 meals through its men’s and women’s center kitchens.

Those who participate in Breakthrough’s Hunger Walk team include supporters of all walks of life: including our homeless guests, East Garfield Park residents, and Fresh Market shoppers, and volunteers, board members, and donors. For each participating walker, the GCFD credits Breakthrough’s account with $12. Walkers can also fundraise beyond their participation credit. In just the past 5 years, Breakthrough supporters have raised more than $80,000 for Breakthrough, and we’ve had an average of 300 Breakthrough walkers each year.

One of our Fresh Market volunteers said he sees the Fresh Market as God’s way of fulfilling His promise to us.  "Every time I watch the long line of guests come through the door, I see God giving them their 'daily bread,'” he said.

Another Fresh Market client turned volunteer, Danita Bowie, was featured in the GCFD annual report last year. To illustrate how important the Fresh Market is to those who access it, Danita shared, “Sometimes, I don’t have food because I have to pay my electrical bills. You have to make a sacrifice somewhere.”

At the Fresh Market, our shoppers don’t just receive a bag of canned goods, they are paired with a personal shopper and guided through the shopping area to find the ingredients needed to create meals for their families. While there, they also receive access to legal aid, food stamps, housing and employment information, financial management, GED certification and family workshops.

In the past two years, Breakthrough’s Fresh Market client-choice food pantry provided more than 1 million pounds of food.

As we look back on our 25 years, we recognize that hunger has always been on our hearts. Back to that very first day when Breakthrough began, and Arloa offered a cup of coffee to those seeking shelter, and then a sandwich when they told her they were hungry. Food is a building block of life, but it can also a building block of the soul. When we feed our guests, we do so with love, and affectionately call our meal service “food hugs.”

To support the Breakthrough Fresh Market and this year’s Hunger Walk, please visit to join our team. Registration closes Aug. 28. There is no on-site registration this year.