History

Ravenswood Community Services began as an outreach program of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago's northside Ravenswood neighborhood. In 1993, parishioners began distributing bags of groceries through the front door of the church to about 20 neighbors in need each week. By 1998, the grocery distribution program expanded to include a weekly hot meal. The number of participants quickly doubled and tripled in those early years. All Saints' parishioners joined with community volunteers to staff the "Just Neighbors" Food Pantry and Community Kitchen.

In 2001, All Saints formally launched Ravenswood Community Services (RCS), a separate 501(c)3 non-profit agency focused on helping to alleviate hunger in the community. The All Saints community and its resources remain an important and integral part of RCS and the achievement of its mission.

Timeline:

1993 Parishioners at All Saints Church decide to start a food pantry on Wednesdays. The first pantry is held on Ash Wednesday. The first week, 2 neighbors come to receive food. That number quickly increases from 2 to 20 as word spreads. Number of volunteers is 1-3 parishioners.

1995 The pantry has an annual budget of $3,000.

1997 The first annual Ravenswood Run is held, to help fund food pantry operations.

1998 Pantry distribution switches from Wednesdays to Tuesday nights.

1999 The food pantry gets a name: "Just Neighbors". Just Neighbors receives its first grant from The Chicago Community Trust, and then its second grant from the Kraft Employee Fund.

2000 With financial support from the Kraft Employee Fund and donated kitchen appliances from an area law firm, the church kitchen is built out and becomes functional. Just Neighbors begins serving a community meal, one Sunday each month. Also in 2000, Just Neighbors begins serving pizza to neighbors waiting for groceries on Tuesday nights.

2001 The food pantry files for status as a separate 501(c)3 organization and changes its name to Ravenswood Community Services. At the same time, RCS begins offering home cooked meals, served family-style, on Tuesday nights.

2002 Volunteers continue to come mainly from All Saints, but are joined by dedicated folks from Lawrence Hall Youth Services  and St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Barrington.

2004 RCS forms a partnership with Episcopal Charities and Community Services and hires a Program Director to oversee operations.

2005 The All Saints' Café begins, offering a restaurant-style dining experience 2-3 times each year for our hungry neighbors. RCS is serving groceries and meals to 100 neighbors each week. Weekly volunteers number 30-40.

2006 RCS holds the first annual Reality Fair at Ravenswood School.

2008 Volunteer nurses staff a health clinic during the Tuesday night pantry and meal program. RCS hires its first Executive Director, bringing the staff to 2 part-time positions.

2009 The first Market Pantry is held at Ravenswood School, a partnership between RCS, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Ravenswood School.

2010 RCS brings on its first dedicated volunteer coordinator. The number of neighbors served each week grows to 300.

2013 RCS begins offering an Oral Health Education and Outreach program on Tuesday nights.