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Obama Foundation Announces New Initiative to Build Healthier Communities in Chicago

July 7, 2022 at 11:08 AM CDT

Local Lunchbox Program Connects South Side Youth to Free, Healthy Meals

CHICAGO – Today, the Obama Foundation announced the creation of the Local Lunchbox Chicago pilot project that aims to provide more than 100,000 meals this summer. The healthy food program connects nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations that serve young people across Chicago with local chefs to serve delicious, healthy, and culturally relevant meals to kids and teens 18 and under. The pilot project, created in partnership with the Shah Family Foundation, will be entirely funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“I am delighted that we are launching this partnership to help feed children across the city in collaboration with a network of outstanding community partners, local minority-owned businesses, and talented local chefs,” said Obama Foundation CEO, Valerie Jarrett. “At the Obama Foundation, our mission is to make sure young people have the tools and resources they need to go out and change the world for the better. And for more young people to thrive and reach for their dreams, they’ve got to have access to the fundamentals which include healthy, familiar, and delicious food – and that’s exactly what the Local Lunchbox program is all about.”

Local Lunchbox was founded in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in June 2020 by the Shah Family Foundation, an organization that supports transformative work in education, health care, and the community. Over the past two years, Local Luchbox has expanded to dozens of locations across Massachusetts and distributed over five million meals, operated by a network of food businesses, community organizations, and schools. Local Lunchbox can operate under any United States Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Program in any community. The Obama Foundation and its community partners will be the first organizations to bring the program to the city of Chicago.

“Local Lunchbox is a win-win for any community, providing fresh, delicious and culturally-relevant meals free for kids while also providing a boost to local restaurants and businesses,” said Jill Shah, President of the Shah Family Foundation. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Obama Foundation in expanding this proven model to millions of young people across Chicago.”

The Lunchbox program connects to the themes of health and wellness planned for the Obama Presidential Center and youth programming. The Obama Presidential Center will have its very own Fruit & Vegetable Garden which will be a place where young people and community members can get their hands dirty and learn about growing healthy produce – inspired by Mrs. Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden.

Meals will be distributed at various sites across the city, including After School Matters, Gary Comer Youth Center, and YMCA. For more information about the Obama Foundation’s Local Lunchbox Program, visit (Opens in a new tab).


Contact: Courtney D. Williams, [email protected]