A black and white portrait of a woman with a coloured background and block colours painted over her.

After seeing their local foodbanks struggling through the pandemic, the Chicago member and her partner Jorge Saldarriaga launched Grocery Run Club – a community-driven initiative that brings fresh produce and everyday necessities to the city’s underserved neighbourhoods

By Cori Burford   Portrait by Joe Cruz

After her work in the events industry came to a standstill this year, Soho House Chicago founding member, Lucy Angel, chose to redirect her time into helping her city. ‘With COVID-19, the events industry has changed in a way that I don’t think any of us could have anticipated,’ she says. ‘I wanted to make sure I was using this time to help others who were in need and less privileged than I am.’

So, in July, with help from her partner Jorge Saldarriaga, Angel started Grocery Run Club: an organisation that works to provide food and other essential goods to people in need – particularly those in underserved neighbourhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides. ‘As we were volunteering with different organisations in the middle of June, we started to post on Instagram about where we were helping and how those communities needed help. We slowly started to see that all of our friends were messaging us asking, “How can I help?”,’ Angel remembers. ‘So, we began to think about what it would look like if we actually called our community to action.’ 

Since launching, Grocery Run Club has partnered with a range of organisations around the city, including the BEET Chicago Community Garden, The Love Fridge, Bronzeville Mutual Aid, Gage Park Latinx Council, alt_ Chicago, Social Works, and Vic Mensa’s Save Money Save Life. Together, they have helped distribute food around the city, from North Lawndale to Englewood and South Shore.
A collage of three images.

‘What’s been really special is getting to know our city on a deeper level and the folks who are working in each of these communities’

A man in a face mask holding a box.
‘What we’ve found is that even though we’re both born and raised here, we don’t know all 77 neighbourhoods like the back of our hand,’ notes Angel. ‘What’s been really special is getting to know our city on a deeper level and the folks who are working in each of these communities,’ she says. The project has also amassed more than 400 monthly donors, on top of around 300 one-time donors. 

Moving forward, Angel and Saldarriaga plan to deepen their partnerships around the city to grow the project further. ‘We wanted to build a longer lasting relationship with these organisations and let them know that we’re here to support them however they need to be supported,’ says Angel.

And while the pandemic may have provided the spark for Grocery Run Club, Angel sees the project continuing even after COVID-19 is over. ‘There are so many people who were already living under poverty, in neighborhoods that were under-resourced, and that’s not going to change in the foreseeable future,’ she says. ‘But I hope that we can be a part of that change.’

Interested in becoming a member?