For my third Action Project in Journalism, I was tasked with creating a Spot Story. A spot story is a journalistic approach to covering an event and, more than most other stories or narratives, a spot story focuses on the eight News Values[link to news vals]. I went to the Lakeview Food pantry and took a rather abnormal journalistic approach by also participating in the event, not only watching like most stories nowadays are. By taking on this role of going out and writing a spot story I was able to much better learn the process journalists go through, and it has given me a deeper meaning for what journalism is. I learned about the huge amount of planning that goes into creating a story, as well as the amount of research that goes in afterwards,in order to give a good amount of background info about the event.
If you’d like to read my spot story, check it out below!
A cold Tuesday afternoon in Chicago I find myself at 1414 W. Oakdale standing outside of the Lakeview Food Pantry. More specifically it’s 4:45 and after a quick five minute introduction and walk around I find myself standing in front of a 18-wheeler semi truck being told it’s time to work on unloading donations. If I had any common sense I would have started running right then. The only thing scarier than the semi truck itself were the contents. Two full pallets of Coffee Creamer from Walmart.
And there stood Carrie and I, standing outside on a Cold Chicago Tuesday, staring at a huge semi truck which somehow managed to fit into the small church parking lot. Out comes two men who quickly come over to say hello, and quickly follow that up with asking if we have a Pallet carrier. Looking rather confused Carrie (head of operations) responds saying no, of course. The two men look at each other, then open the back of the semi truck and leave us in awe, staring at two pallets of Coffee Creamer. These wouldn’t fit in the huge refrigerator the Pantry owned, even if we took everything else out. The more important question was, who is about to move a couple thousand pounds of coffee creamer.
Lakeview Food Pantry hands out food to 30 people 3-4 times a week, giving as much as 50 pounds of food to each person. This food consists of non-perishables, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. This little operation, ran out of the basement of a church ran by two full time employees and on average ten volunteers hands out as much as 4500 pounds of food a week! While sorting produce, Carrie told us that, while deciding whether or not food is good, think “would I eat it?” we often lower our standards in these situations but Carrie made it a point to make sure the clients receive as much respect as possible.
Lakeview Food Pantries serve more than 12,000 individuals (located in the Lakeview neighborhood) with bi-weekly food supplies as well as weekly fresh bread and produce. They have only 10 full-time staff and have more than 800 dedicated volunteers. They have only two locations and serve 1.5 millions pounds a year, but this wouldn’t be possible without some of their major partners: Greater Chicago Food Depository, Green City Market, Jewel, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.
You’d be amazed by how much could get done at this little cramped location in the basement of an old church. A lot of time is spend weighing the food so that they can track how much they get from each of their partners, next, the most difficult part: sorting. A lot of the fresh produce is past its sell-by date; not all of it has gone bad, but we had to make sure to go through to make sure all of the food was high quality and was something we would eat. I spent a solid twenty minutes looking through crate, after crate, after crate of bananas sorting them into good, and trash. Taking part in handing out food to the clients can be extremely rewarding, and even though you may be exhausted after spending a couple hours running around your feet, you’ll go home knowing you made a difference in Chicago tonight.