This September, in recognition of Hunger Action Month, Catholic Charities partnered with the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools, Soldier Field, and the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation to help eliminate hunger in our communities.

Dubbed “The Soup-er Stadium Challenge,” we collectively asked the public to donate shelf-stable food items with a goal to provide 100,000 meals to Chicagoans in need. To illustrate the volume of people in need, this amount is enough food to fill every seat in Soldier Field twice. All donations benefited Catholic Charities eight food pantries located throughout Cook and Lake counties.

At the kickoff event for the challenge, held Tuesday, September 12, at Soldier Field's Midway Club, more than 200 attendees bought tickets to benefit the cause and donated non-perishable food.

Emile Johnson, who serves on Catholic Charities Board of Advisors and is president of Goode Foods, stepped up to the challenge and donated 13,000 meals to our emergency assistance clients.

“To those who much is given, much is expected,” Emile said. “The fact that I own a canned goods company, and there are hungry people in Chicago who are in need, I thought, I should use these gifts that I’ve been given to share. It makes our community stronger to meet the needs of those who are underserved.”

Emile has lived in Chicago for more than 30 years but was introduced to Catholic Charities when he was in college at the University of Cincinnati.

“I’ve known since then that Catholic Charities is a centerpiece of help to communities in need, no matter what their race, creed, or religion,” Emile said.

“When I visit with the guests at our evening supper program, I am reminded that food is the most basic human need and a fundamental human right,” Monsignor Boland said. “We consider all of our food and nutrition programs the very essential first step in helping people escape poverty.  Without access to nutritious food to nourish the body and mind, it is very hard to overcome poverty.