A Chicago Tribune Lake County News Sun article “Nonprofit feeds county’s jobless, health heroes” recently featured GFF grantee Roberti Community House. The Robert House Culinary Pathway “has rapidly boosted efforts to address food shortages of the unemployed by expanding food preparation and distribution. The nonprofit, based on Waukegan’s South Side, also is feeding health heroes working at area hospitals during the coronavirus epidemic.”
Roberti House has changed gears, turning its culinary school kitchen into a communal galley. “We’re getting people food that they need,” said Maribeth Roberti, who founded the nonprofit. “We’re stepping up for the community.”
The group has seen a 349-percent increase in the number of individuals being fed weekly since the pandemic became a serious crisis last month. That’s more than 800 meals each week, she said recently.
Those meals include ones prepared in the Roberti House Culinary Pathway kitchen on Lincoln Avenue in Waukegan, led by chef Clay Erickson. Erickson and volunteers have been turning out hot lunches, bag lunches, family kit meals and fresh produce for struggling families.
It’s an overwhelmingly task given the increasing numbers being impacted by the rapid spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, there were 1,331 coronavirus cases and 39 deaths in Lake County attributed to the disease, according to the Health Department.
“Our focus has turned to three critical services to address the growing need for food,” Roberti said. “There’s a lot of moving parts.” Because of its food mobilization and rapid response, Roberti House was one of eight county nonprofits receiving a grant from the United Way of Lake County’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund.