May’s National Restaurant Association Show meant abundant food and great samples for the show’s tens of thousands of attendees, but it also resulted in more than 52,000 meals for Chicago’s food pantries.

NRA exhibitors donate to Chicago food banks

Courtesy Greater Chicago Food Depository

One of the Greater Chicago Food Depository's Producemobiles, refrigerated trucks it refers to as "farmers markets on wheels" and uses to deliver produce to its member food banks, loads up on donations from exhibitors following the National Restaurant Association's annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show at Chicago's McCormick Place May 22-25.

Exhibitors donated extra food, including produce, after the May 22-25 show at McCormick Place to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which then divided it up and transported meal components to its more than 600 members.

The donated food amounted to almost 69,000 pounds. Fresh produce donated by produce exhibitors and others that used fresh produce in their displays or demonstrations was loaded up on the food depository’s Producemobiles, refrigerated trucks it uses exclusively for produce, said Derrek Hull, manager of marketing and communications for the National Restaurant Association.

The food depository serves 678,000 people per year, and has been working with the National Restaurant Association for more than 20 years on food donations after its show, according to a news release. The depository’s more than 600 members include pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers and senior living facilities.

The food depository distributed 58 million pounds of food, including produce, dairy products, meat and nonperishable food items, in 2009, according to the release.

Next year’s National Restaurant Association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel show is scheduled to return to Chicago May 21-24.