Chicago, Mayor, Brandon Johnson

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson Praises Black/Latinx Businesses For Helping Migrants

The network of establishments, mostly small Black and Latinx-owned businesses, has served about 18,000 meals daily since the end of 2022. 


As part of his initiative to highlight Chicago’s mission to feed the asylum seekers who living in the city’s shelters, on Feb. 6 Mayor Brandon Johnson toured BJ’s Market and Bakery, one of 17 establishments serving migrants hot meals in the city’s shelters.

This is thanks to a $17.6 million contribution to the Greater Chicago Food Depository from the state of Illinois and private donations. The network of establishments, mostly small Black and Latinx-owned businesses, has served approximately 18,000 meals each day since the end of 2022. 

Kate Maehr, executive director & CEO of the Food Depository, told CBS News, “It is a model of what we were able to do; not only providing millions of meals for new arrivals, but also reinvesting millions of dollars in small and local Black- and brown-owned businesses.”

John Meyer, the owner chef/owner of BJ’s, said his restaurant has seen a 100% increase in revenue since joining the program, which has allowed him to add four employees. 

“This mission is going to take all of us, so there is a strong commitment for the state, county, and city to continue to challenge the federal government to respond to international crises while also making sure that the 28 shelters I have stood up, the 5,500 children I am educating, and the thousands of families that we are providing healthcare for… we continue our efforts to do just that,” Johnson said during a press conference.

Johnson also praised the program as a good representation of the spirit of Chicago.

“The $17 million investment for these 18 black and brown small businesses really captures what I call the soul of Chicago,” he said. “It’s who we are. I actually think it’s quite fitting that we are in this wonderful small business because it has been Black and brown small businesses that have stepped up in this moment, in this crisis, to respond to these families who are arriving here.”

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