The announcement marks a commitment from the City of Chicago to extend the vibrant culture, food, and community embedded within the historic “Taste of Chicago To-Go” event, to those experiencing homelessness within the Chicagoland community.
CHICAGO (July 10, 2021) – Today, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), SocialWorks, and Michael Airhart partner to host Taste for the Homeless – Summerfest at the Columbus Park District Fieldhouse. This event will directly support those experiencing homelessness by providing culture, food, and community embedded within the
City’s “Taste of Chicago” event. SocialWorks and Michael Airhart expect to bus in approximately 700 shelter residents for an afternoon of fun, love, and community with Chicago’s favorite food.
“While this year is different for all of us, the spirit of Taste of Chicago lives on with community meals and pop-up events throughout the city showcasing Chicago’s diverse and legendary
culinary, music and arts scene,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “Local restaurants make up the backbone of our neighborhoods – and we’re finding creative ways to support both of them
and the communities they serve. Partnering with SocialWorks & Michael Airhart on this meaningful and impactful event gives us the opportunity to connect with the local community.”
The event will feature Chicago classics like Chicago’s Dog House, Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs, Rainbow Cone, BJ’s Market, and Ms. Tittles Cupcakes, and local small businesses, such as
Tastee T’s, Slim’s BBQ, and more. Additionally, this event will feature essential hygiene items provided by local non-profit organizations such as the Chicago Period Project and Grocery Run
Club, clothing items donated by Roots Chicago, and many more giveaways to directly support those who attend this event. Taste for the Homeless – Summer Fest, created by Michael Airhart,
and supported by SocialWorks, is a semi-annual Taste of Chicago-inspired event that brings out the community to help those experiencing homelessness.
“Years ago when I attended Taste of Chicago, I witnessed the less fortunate being turned away when asking if they can have the leftover food that was eventually going to be thrown away. If that moment didn’t happen, my organization, Taste for the Homeless, wouldn’t be here today. Everyday I live by the motto “Who are we as human beings, if we ignore the suffering of others” so I am so grateful and honored to partner with SocialWorks, the City of Chicago and the Chicago
Park District to reimagine the way we support those experiencing homelessness” says Michael Airhart.
Six years ago, Michael Airhart began his efforts when he witnessed a substantial amount of food
being thrown away at the Taste of Chicago event rather than it being given to those in need. What started off as serving bologna sandwiches to the people, has quickly transformed into the
Taste Cafe where “Chef Mike” serves juicy steaks, savory bacon, eggs, and honey mustard salmon prepared on his two massive flat-top EVO grills. With the help of Chance the Rapper’s
charity, SocialWorks, Michael Airhart has been able to serve tens of thousands of people in need over the past three years.
“Partnering with City of Chicago DCASE and Taste of Chicago To-Go to present the 2021
Summerfest is amazing. So many barriers stop people from experiences that could change their lives. The culture, food, and community within Chicago is life-changing, and being able to bring a
piece of that, with much-needed supports to this community, is special,” says SocialWorks’ Executive Director, Justin Cunningham.
SocialWorks and Michael Airhart have impacted 75 shelters throughout the city by providing meals, food, and shelter through Taste for the Homeless Summer and Winter Fests as well as
through the daily feeding programming, Taste Cafe. Together, the two organizations have donated over 61K meals and 144K warming items to those in need.
About Taste of Chicago To-Go
Taste of Chicago To-Go (July 7–11, TasteofChicago.us), a new and reimagined program presented in place of the Taste of Chicago festival in Grant Park, returns this summer with free
food, music, and dance events across the city It will feature nearly 40 participating eateries and promoting Chicago’s amazing restaurant industry — plus many “Community Eats” community
meals serving local nonprofit Organizations, such as SocialWorks’ Taste for the Homeless event on July 10th. Highlights for the public include pop-up events at the Pullman City Market (July 7),
Austin Town Hall City Market (July 8), The Hatchery (July 10), the West Englewood neighborhood (July 10), and Eli’s Cheesecake Company (July 10). Other highlights include a special “Taste-ing” event at Goose Island Brewery’s Tap Room (July 9); an afternoon of Puerto Rican food and
coffee with Marisel Vera, author of “The Taste of Sugar,” at ¡WEPA! Mercado del Pueblo (July 9); a Picnic in White at Millennium Park produced by women restaurateurs (July 11); and pop-up
music performances at participating eateries citywide, featuring artists from the Chicago Band Roster (July 7–11).
About Michael Airhart
Michael Airhart is someone who loves to help others without hesitation and has been feeding friends and family from the age of 7. Michael started off with All Kids Matter back in 2015 when he heard the voice of God tell him to feed HIS children. Michael along with his wife, Pamela, started
in their kitchen making sandwiches, adding a bag of potato chips, a piece of fruit, and a bottle of water to pack in their car and pass out. From there, the Airhart’s started preparing hot meals on their stove while posting their mission on all social media platforms and people wanted to get
involved with cooking and to come out to help serve. After a couple of years, Michael decided to change the name to Taste for The Homeless. Taste for the Homeless mission is to provide services to uplift the homeless to become contributing citizens to those that live on the street and those living in shelters by providing food, clothing, hygiene items, and social services to the less fortunate.
SocialWorks, founded by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper, aims to empower the youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. Since 2016, SocialWorks has created five initiatives that present youth the opportunity to learn and act on their passions. SocialWorks’ programming focuses on education, mental health, homelessness, and performing and literary arts – directly affecting thousands of youth yearly. Through the initiatives, OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind, SocialWorks hopes to inspire creativity, build dreams, and advocate for youth success in all its forms.