Credit: Jason Wyatt Frederick

“The species in which peace and mutual support are the rule, prosper, while the unsociable species decay.” So wrote Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin, advocating for the concept of mutual aid, when communities care for their members rather than forcing them to eat each other to survive.

It’s a concept that has sustained a sizeable portion of the Chicago restaurant industry during the pandemic, while at the same time supporting farmers, vendors, bakers, and thousands of hungry Chicagoans. Launched in June at Kimski, the Community Kitchen + Canteen program has prepared and distributed or served nearly 61,000 free or pay-what-you can meals, while employing 56 local chefs and expanding to four other restaurants all over the city, including Wherewithall in Avondale, Iyanze Bronze in Bronzeville, Whiner Beer Company in Back of the Yards, and Snakes & Lattes in Logan Square.

Since government has shown so little concern for the economic sustainability of one of the nation’s largest employers, nor given a flying fuck for the health and safety of its workforce, it’s on them—and us—to help. Born in Bridgeport as an outgrowth of Marz’s Community of the Future and the Co-Prosperity Sphere’s Quarantine Times, the program’s funded entirely through grants and individual donations to the Public Media Institute, which also published a comprehensive Mutual Aid Chicago map, plotting hundreds of other programs across the city where you can find free food—or fund it yourself.