Culinary Care is a nonprofit that’s been around since 2013, delivering meals to cancer patients, working with Chicago-area restaurants and hospitals to brighten up the days of thousands suffering from the disease. Next week, the organization is partnering with Big Kids, the Logan Square sandwich shop, to raise money for their efforts.
Big Kids’ Ryan Pfeiffer will do a chef’s demonstration, and the group is asking for donations. Culinary Care founder Courtney White is timing the effort to coincide with National Make Lunch Count Day, which is Tuesday, April 13. White is asking folks to donate their lunch money so her group can continue to comfort cancer patients.
They’ve worked with restaurants like Wazwan, La Shuk, Fat Shallot, BLVD, Beatnik, Doc B’s, Aster Hall, and Bub City. During the pandemic, Culinary Care has purchased its meals from restaurants as many went into hibernation.
White’s father, Barry, died of lung cancer in 2006, and she’s forever been inspired to help others. During her father’s battle, White came to appreciate her community’s support. She grew up in Wilmette, one of Chicago’s more affluent suburbs. She realized not everyone has that type of support: “It was one less thing to care about knowing that we had a good meal that we could come home to,” White says.
While her father wasn’t the healthiest eater, he enjoyed devouring a plate of wings, says White, the family realized how important it was to have a nutritious meal while going back and forth between the hospital and home. Cancer patients also have special needs. Soft foods that are low in sodium are helpful. Some will lose their taste.
Culinary Care’s volunteers aim to taking the guessing work out of food choices for patients and their loved ones. Even during the pandemic, with hospitals limiting how can enter the venues, and with restaurants struggling without indoor dining, Culinary Care delivered 6,500 meals, White says. Culinary Care also pivoted to provide meals for essential health care workers and started to purchase meals rather than asking for donations from restaurants.
With those restrictions, White says her work is more important than ever. Quarantines lead to a feeling of isolation, and Culinary Care’s meals can help cut through that sense of alone.
The organization works with facilities like University of Chicago Hospital, Northwestern Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, University of Illinois Medical Center, and Evanston Hospital. White expressed an interest in expanding its reach to other facilities, while also adding new restaurants. Check out more information at the link.