Many of us are proud and knowledgeable Chicagoans. We know the best pizza place in each neighborhood. We inherently have the summer firework schedule memorized. Our brains never forget which way the lake is located and we know random facts about our city, such as how the Aon Center is the third tallest building in Chicago and that the nickname “Windy City” is a political, not weather-related, reference.
But even for those of us who are born and bred Chicagoans, there are alarming facts about our city that are not well known, such as how 1 in 6 people in Cook County, more than 860,000 men, women and children, are food insecure and are unsure of where they will receive their next meal.
In the CRE industry, as in other professions, food insecurity is a distant thought. Many of our business discussions, meetings and transactions occur over breakfast, lunch or dinner. But for many communities all across the Chicagoland area, planning the next meal is a stressful thought. Food is weighed on a scale of importance – the question is not which restaurant to try next, but whether or not to pay for food or for utilities instead.
BOMA/Chicago helps the food insecure members of our community answer that question by rallying behind the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s (GCFD) Holiday Food Drive. This year’s campaign – 1 City, 1 Food Drive – reinforces our community working together to help those in need. For six years now, BOMA/Chicago has teamed up with the GCFD to collect food for the Holiday Food Drive. Our generous members (and their building tenants) continue to break donation records each year. Registration for this year’s drive opened last week (September 30) and closes October 31 – click here to register your building to participate.
In 2012, a total of 157 BOMA/Chicago Members participated in the GCFD holiday food drive and collected 66,164 pounds of food, almost doubling our 2011 donations. Since 2008, we have provided more than 130,000 meals to hungry Chicagoans, making us one of GCFD’s key partners.
This year, let’s try to beat our own record! The GCFD has given us the challenge to help raise 150,000 pounds of food in 2013 and we know our members are passionate enough to make this goal happen! To reach this goal, each of our buildings will have to collect six barrels of food. Are you up to the challenge?
Dozens of members have already signed up and started their efforts to drum up tenant support for the drive. BOMA/Chicago talked to three Building Members who held highly successful food drives in 2012 and who have already jumped on board to support our 2013 food drive initiative.
One of our member buildings, 633 N. St. Clair, held its first food drive last year after the property management company, Jones Lang LaSalle, sent an email to all properties encouraging their participation. In just its first year, 633 N. St. Clair was able to exceed the 6 barrel goal, collecting 7 barrels and 1,014 pounds of food. Alicia Peck, Property Administrator at the building, claims that tenant excitement was the main key to the building’s success. Alicia originally engaged the tenants through posters and a blast email. Sure enough, most tenants jumped on board right from the beginning. Many departments in the building set goals to see who could donate the most food; that department then received a prize. The Continuous Quality Improvement Department at the American College of Surgeons donated the most food out of the entire building – a total of 79 bags.
Another member building, 10|120 South Riverside Plaza, continues to demonstrate success in GCFD’s Holiday Food Drive, even after four years of participating. Last year, the tenants collected 1,959 pounds (13 barrels) of food, more than doubling its collection from 2011. One of 10 S. Riverside Plaza’s tenants, bswift, was the largest 2012 contributor, donating 1,000 pounds of food.
Krystal LaFianza-Pitzen, Operations Analyst at 10|120 South Riverside Plaza, told us that although her team displays captivate screens and collection barrels in the lobby, she believes that the annual food drive truly stands on its own. According to Krystal, “We do what we can to educate our tenants about the drive and encourage them to contribute, but at the end of the day, it is the humanity and hearts of our tenants that make the drive so successful.”
Another one of our most successful 2012 food drive buildings, 515 North State Street, received donations from an unlikely source. Due to a very visible marketing campaign, where large signs about the drive were displayed in the lobby alongside collection barrels, a resident who lived down the street from the building found out about the drive. Unbeknownst to 515 North State, this man then hosted a party and asked his friends to make food donations. The morning after the party, he dropped off a large box full of canned foods! Nancy Crockatt, Property Manager of the building, thanked the charitable citizen, who donated the food purely out of the kindness of his heart.
So whether you gain the support of your tenants through captivate screens, emails, kickoff parties, or even through anonymous donations, we encourage you to help us raise 150,000 pounds of food this holiday season. As all of us start digging out old recipes and gearing up to visit families as winter falls upon us, let’s help nourish our fellow Chicagoans so that they can enjoy the holidays as much as we do.
How are you going to engage your tenants in this year’s GCFD food drive? Leave us a comment below and share your tips for success!