One in six people in Cook County turn to the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s network. “Most people don’t know that I think that’s kind of a sobering and surprising number for a lot of people,” said Paul Morello, public relations manager for the GCFD. “The food drive hosted by the Bulls is a critical component in helping raise awareness.”

Bulls, Vienna Beef team up to gather 50,000 pounds of food

Thirty-four Chicago Public Schools assisted the annual effort, which benefitted the Greater Chicago Food Depository

By Adam Fluck | 01.06.2015 

The Greater Chicago Food Depository serves 812,000 men, women and children each year.

Given Cook County’s population of 5.2 million, that’s roughly one out of every six people who turn to the Food Depository’s network.

At times it’s difficult for the supply to meet the demand, which is why once again the Bulls, along with Vienna Beef, held a holiday food drive to provide nutritional food for those in need.

The Bulls have hosted a holiday food drive for over 25 years and consistently rank among the top collectors who work with the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

As part of this season’s efforts, fans attending home games from Dec. 2-22 could make financial donations whenever they visited one of the United Center concession stands or restaurants. On the last day of the drive, Vienna Beef matched contributions made by fans at that evening’s game.

“The importance of food drives is to provide a steady source of quality food at a time when the food depositories have to purchase more and more food,” explained Paul Morello, public relations manager for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “The availability of food is not always there. Food drives like the ones the Bulls host help us provide that quality food and get it out to people.

“At the same time, with a community organization like the Bulls that is so involved and so ingrained with their brand—everyone in Chicago and across the country knows the Bulls—to have them partnering with us is so important,” added Morello. “The Bulls really get behind the cause and do a lot to help us raise awareness.”

In addition to the in-arena program, 34 Chicago Public Schools competed to see who could collect the most food, based on weight. A total of 49,192 pounds of food was gathered, the equivalent of 40,993 meals.

Fernwood Elementary School, located in the Roseland neighborhood roughly 15 miles south of the United Center, came out on top after providing nearly 5,200 pounds for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. As a reward, students and staff were provided with 100 tickets to Chicago’s game against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 22. Each attendee that evening received a t-shirt marking their accomplishment and enjoyed a postgame autograph session with Benny the Bull. 

Stephen K. Hayt Elementary School, John W. Garvy Elementary Shool, SPC Daniel Zizumbo Charter School and Minnie Mars Jamieson Elementary School rounded out the top five.

“It’s really all about mobilizing the community,” said Morello. “The Bulls have done an outstanding job of doing that when you look at the way the schools have gotten involved and how they’ve been incentivized to do so. Making it a fun experience for the students and the staff to donate and get involved really helps and it also illustrates the Bulls’ incredible reach. The Bulls are so committed to their community and this is just an extension of that. It’s hugely beneficial.”