LINCOLN SQUARE — Bistro Campagne is holding a food drive to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository, but instead of collecting cans of tuna and peas at the restaurant on Lincoln Avenue, organizers are asking people to spend their dollars on virtual groceries.
Donors can load up an online shopping cart through the food depository, choosing from a list of pre-selected items that includes oatmeal, peanut butter, eggs and baby food. The total at "checkout" is the sum of an individual's contribution.
Because of its sizeable purchasing power and agreements with vendors, the food depository can then stretch those dollars, getting far more bang for its buck than the average consumer.
A person shopping at a local supermarket might budget $25 for groceries to donate to a food drive. Paying full retail, the customer would have enough money for 24 four-ounce jars of baby food, with a couple of bucks left over.
With the same $25, the food depository can buy 24 jars of baby food and a dozen jars of peanut butter, or a dozen cans of beef stew, or nearly 40 pounds of apples.
The food depository estimates that one in six Chicagoans faces hunger every day. Through its network of more than 400 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, the food depository distributed the equivalent of 134,800 meals every day in 2012.