US Foods Delivers at Region D Spring Games in Chicago

In a remarkable show of community spirit and dedication, Special Olympics Illinois recently partnered with US Foods at the Region D Spring Games as part of US Food’s Spring Into Service initiative.

a group of people in a room

This collaboration, spearheaded by Jeff Forkenbrock, US Foods Sales Manager and active Special Olympics Illinois Leaders Council member, alongside Natalie Olund and Brian Van Vels, brought together multiple businesses with one goal: to provide support to individuals and families throughout the community.

Jeff, who is a seasoned Polar Plunge participant, faced the challenge of providing 4,300 meals to athletes and volunteers over two days. Rising to the occasion, Jeff leveraged US Foods’ strong supplier relationships, securing donations from Hormel Foods for meals.

But the support didn’t stop there. Joker’s Cajun Smokehouse in Logan Square generously offered their restaurant space for volunteers, most of whom were from US Foods, to assemble the meals, demonstrating true community partnership.

Even though Region D Spring Games faced an event day cancellation due to the weather, US Foods adapted the plan, using their Pronto trucks to deliver meals to Dunbar Park, and ensuring that no one went without. The commitment to service was palpable as meals were distributed to teams.

a group of men standing outside a building

The impact of this initiative extended beyond food. Prior to Spring Games, Jeff and Natalie also arranged a system for US Foods employees to submit notes of encouragement to athletes who would be competing.

Several Athlete Leaders from around the area took part in this initiative as well. Athlete Leader Diego Villareal made his first-ever public speaking engagement at US Foods, talking about his Special Olympics Illinois journey and the profound effect of community support from partners like US Foods, Hormel, and Joker’s Cajun Smokehouse. Plus, Athlete Leaders Caroline Colianne, Lisa Noble, Kurt Noble, and Kirk Nelson also participated by preparing sandwiches for delivery.

This collaboration not only provided essential meals to our athletes and volunteers, but it also saved Special Olympics Illinois an estimated $10,000, underscoring the tremendous value of community support.

Looking ahead, Special Olympics Illinois Athlete Leaders and staff plan to visit the US Foods campus in Rosemont during an upcoming quarterly company meeting to discuss and grow this impactful partnership.

Thank you to these incredible partners for supporting our mission!