Northern Seminary Professor’s Team Feeding 225,000 People During COVID-19 Pandemic

Christopher Toote manages many things in his life.  He has earned a PhD and MBA and now serves as the Executive Director of UChicago Dining services for The University of Chicago in the Division of Campus Life and Student Services.

When Dr. Toote is not busy on University of Chicago’s campus, he also serves people in Chicagoland as the Executive Pastor at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and as an adjunct faculty member for Northern Seminary in suburban Lisle, IL.

As a major institution on the South Side, the University of Chicago has a commitment to its neighbors.  The University’s Community Support Initiative builds on that commitment at a time of great uncertainty and need. The initiative was designed to help bridge the resource gap as other public and private sector COVID-19 assistance becomes available.

Through that initiative, The University of Chicago created a 10-week food security program that leverages the on-campus dining facilities and staff to produce meals for South Side residents. When the pandemic first hit, the University moved to remote learning and the students, faculty and staff left campus.  The dining halls and cafes were suddenly empty.  The University saw an opportunity to leverage the dining infrastructure that normally feeds thousands of people daily to meet one of the most pressing needs on the South Side.

The University of Chicago made a commitment early on that the food service staff employed through its vendors would continue to receive their regular pay for the duration of Spring Quarter.  Many of the institution’s Dining workers are South Side residents themselves. So, for them this is a chance to support their neighbors which makes it all the more meaningful.

This effort was joined by amazing collaborative partnerships like the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the local Aldermen and other community partners. The meals that are being prepared are being distributed to more than 20 sites within the University’s nine neighborhood focus area. The University is committed to preparing 225,000 meals for South Side residents through mid-June. To date, over 150,000 meals have been prepared and distributed.  That’s about 3,000 meals per day on average.

Dr. Toote expressed, “I am so thankful that God has opened the door for me to take part in this opportunity.  We obviously have met a need that existed. We also kept our 400-plus employees working during the pandemic, avoiding personal hardships of unemployment for them.”

To see other ways The University of Chicago, its partners, and Dr. Toote’s team are making a difference in Chicago, keep reading here:

“We are so grateful to all our food service vendors, and the Transportation arm of The University who participate in the production and the distribution of meals. Their role is critical in assuring that we keep up with increased demand of meals.”, Toote explains.  Dr. Toote says the work brings to his mind “Loaves and Fishes” Parable from the Gospel.  “Whatever we offer to God, He multiplies for His glory. What a blessing to be impactful and make a difference in the lives of others, the community, and the city!”, Christopher concludes.

To Read more about how this partnership is supported by leaders across Chicago.

Dr. Toote is an administrator of higher education and has extensive management and leadership experience. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education and Administration and a Doctor of Ministry. He has pursued theological studies at Northern Caribbean University, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Trinity Theological Seminary, Temple Baptist Seminary, and Andrews University. Currently Dr. Toote devotes time outside The University of Chicago as Executive Pastor of Administration, Leadership, and Christian Education at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago and as an adjunct professor for Northern Seminary in Lisle, IL. Dr. Toote is also the author of “The 10 Biblical Laws of Success”, “The 9 Universal Laws of Success”, and “50 Powerful Sermon Outlines,” Vols. 1-3.

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