Schools distribute hot meals to give moms a break on holiday

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A community member thanks Bonnie Hall, principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School, for the meal he picked up in front of the school on May 9, 2020. (Karen Callaway/Chicago) Catholic

On May 9, the day before Mother’s Day, Our Lady of Guadalupe School, 9050 S. Burley Ave., gave away 600 hot meals to their families and neighbors to relieve parents from the burden of cooking on the holiday.

It was the second week the school gave away hot meals made by Roma’s Village Bar and Grill, a local restaurant owned by Zoila Perez, who is a school parent. The meals were donated by Jennifer and Gerald Beeson, supporters of Big Shoulders Fund. The family provided 20,000 meals at 31 schools that day.

The effort was part of Big Shoulders’ Feed It Forward program, initiated by Carol Lavin Bernick, that has enabled the nonprofit to partner with local restaurants to provide meals at schools since the crisis started.

On Mother’s Day weekend, families at Our Lady of Guadalupe received chicken fajitas, rice and beans for four people, said Bonnie Hall, principal.

“We did complete meals so mom doesn’t have to cook,” Hall said. “We just wanted to help our moms.”

Perez has one child in the school, and her five other children also attended Our Lady of Guadalupe. She started cooking the meals at 5 a.m. that morning for an 11 a.m. distribution.

“I’m so happy to help the people,” she said.

Perez’s restaurant provides meals to students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, also with the financial support of the Big Shoulders Fund.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Our Lady of Guadalupe participates in the Office of Catholic Schools’ program that distributes free breakfasts and lunches for two days at 26 schools in the archdiocese. Friday distributions include breakfast and lunch for Saturday. More than 9,000 children are receiving the meals.

Being able to provide food to Our Lady of Guadalupe families is helping keep her business afloat during COVID-19, Perez said.

“If I didn’t have this, I would have closed the restaurant because nobody is coming.”

Hall said the families she has spoken to are grateful for the extra help and the school is honored to do it.

“This is a privilege. This our faith in action,” she said. “We’re all in this together and we work very hard for each other at Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the end, it’s all about the children.”

And while e-learning continues until the school’s last day on June 1, there are benefits to seeing the students and families during the food distributions.

“E-learning is wonderful but there’s nothing like seeing their little faces,” Hall said. “We miss them and they miss us. We pray we’re back in school in August.”


  • catholic schools
  • coronavirus

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