Food & Nutrition

A healthy diet is central to health for people of all ages. For the individuals and families that Heartland Health Outreach serves, however, nutrition is most often beyond their reach. With little income, no place to call home and limited access to nutritious foods, our participants struggle to get enough to eat, let alone obtain the healthy foods that will help them improve their health.

Heartland Health Outreach and the Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care program are committed to securing high-quality foods and providing participants with the knowledge to best support their health. Download the required intake documents here.

The food and nutrition program offers the following services to support improved nutrition.

Food Distribution and Meals

For low-income people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, HHO offers three options for them to access nutritious food through the Vital Bridges program:

  • There are four grocery centers in the Edgewater, Englewood and Garfield Park communities in the city and in suburban Elk Grove Village. Eligible participants can shop weekly, selecting nutritious food equal to 10 meals per week from a menu of fresh and non-perishable options.
  • Suburban participants who do not have transportation to get to a site can receive home-delivered food boxes twice a month by volunteers.  Participants select their food from the same menu used in the grocery centers.
  • For individuals who are home-bound and unable to prepare meals for themselves, HHO offers home-delivered, prepared meals in the city of Chicago.

Each year, HHO provides nutritious food for more than 400,000 meals per year for low-income people living with HIV.

For homeless participants, most with serious mental illness and/or addictions, HHO offers nutritious, prepared lunches five days per week in the Homeless Resource Center. A team of volunteer clients are trained to plan and prepare the meal, under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian. Because this may be the only meal participants have on any given day, the team works hard to assure that it is both nutritious and delicious. Each year, HHO provides more than 12,000 meals to homeless individuals in the Resource Center.

For participants in our residential programs, meals are prepared on-site and served in a community setting. Staff members and participants work together to plan and prepare the meals, ordering food on a weekly basis.

Nutrition Counseling and Education Services

HHO has a team of five Registered Dietitians who provide nutrition education and counseling across the organization to our diverse populations. The dietitian team offers individual and group services with a focus on helping people develop healthy eating habits and build nutritious diets. Services include:

  • For people living with HIV, individual and group education and counseling sessions are available at each of the grocery centers every week. These sessions include cooking demonstrations and workshops presented by the dietitians.
  • For homeless participants, group education and counseling sessions are available in the Homeless Resource Center on a weekly basis, with the option of individual sessions as needed.
  • For participants in the health center, individual nutrition counseling is available when referred by a provider to address specific health concerns, like hypertension or diabetes.
  • For participants in the Refugee Health Program, multilingual individual and group counseling to assist them in adapting to local foods is available. This includes learning how to shop for groceries, alternative products to meet their cultural needs and education on nutrition and health.

Each year, the dietitians provide nearly 1,500 nutrition education and counseling sessions to more than 800 participants.

Food Program Intake (Restricted to people who are HIV positive) – Rashonda Mays, 773-826-7066
Refugee Health Programs – Erin Hantke, 773-751-1744
For general information – Laura Samnadda, 773-826-7066

Download the required intake documents here.

FOOD PROGRAM HOURS (must qualify):

North Side Pantry
Tuesdays: noon – 6:00 pm
Thursdays: noon – 3:00 pm; 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Saturdays: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

West Side Pantry
Tuesdays: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Fridays: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Saturdays – 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

South Side Pantry
Thursdays: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm; 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Fridays: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturdays: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Elk Grove Village Pantry
1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month
11:00 am – 5:00 pm