What We're Saying

Chicago Celebrates with Advocacy for Local Food Banks

 The Midwestern office of IA volunteers at the Greater Chicago Food Depository to give back to the Windy City.

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Volunteers from the Chicago office of IA Interior Architects recently spent a chilly and early morning with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a 35-year-old food distribution and training center that distributes food to a network of 650 charitable outlets across Cook County. In 2013, the Food Depository’s output was measured at 154,000 meals per day.

“When the day started, our organizer gave an overview of the volunteer work and the number of those living in the city who are food insecure—meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from—was just staggering,” says Scott Delano, design director in Chicago. “What really stayed with me is that one in five children in the city of Chicago are food insecure. I’ve already arranged to go back to the Depository with friends.”

The team was relegated to two tasks that morning. The first required packing 600 boxes of various foodstuffs that would be shipped to older individuals across the city. To maximize time and efficiency, the team was set up along an assembly to execute one task each along a chain of command. “I was at the end of the conveyor line where I had to close the lids of 600 individual boxes that were being shipped to the elderly,” says Oliver Aguilar, a job captain with IA in Chicago. “Many times, I thought I was reenacting the famous chocolate conveyor scene from “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel were overwhelmed by the fast pace of work. All I could do is chuckle and sweat as box after box after box came my way.”

The second task required the team to process apples with two other groups. After sorting out the bad or rotten apples, they packed 10 to a bag which were loaded onto pallets for distribution. The original goal was to inspect 5,000 pounds of apples, but together the volunteers processed over 14,000 pounds.

“We were coming together as a firm, through a variety of ways, with the same goal—to make a difference for others less fortunate—and that is representative of who makes up IA,” says Richelle Allen, account manager in Chicago. “Each office is unique but as a firm we are connected by like principles, values, and vision and volunteering demonstrated that in a way befitting of a 30th anniversary.”

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“As a relatively new addition to the IA family I was impressed with the dedication of the firm to the volunteer efforts, and also with the team members who were with me,” Delano says. “Their hard work, effort, and belief in our ability to make a difference made me a humbled and proud member of the family.”

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