Food that would otherwise go to waste was donated to Chicago communities this week as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in reduced demand at airport restaurants.

Midway Partnership and food and beverage partner SSP America joined with community organizations to donate unused perishable food items from Midway Airport (MDW) restaurants to neighbors in need.

With the help of community partners, fresh fruit, vegetables and other perishable food items destined to spoil were distributed within the local community. More than five pallets’ worth of food was handed out in grocery bags at the off-site kitchen and distribution center. Most recipients arrived in cars for a physical distance hand-off. Through the community partners’ social networks, Midway Partnership and SSP were also able to distribute donated food items to local food pantries, senior service centers, and the Chicago Public Schools’ free meals pickup program while schools are closed.

The excess food was the result of a sharp decline in passenger traffic. Midway Partnership said the springtime travel period sees an average of 50,000 to 60,000 passengers traveling through Midway on a daily basis, but that number has shrunk to an average of 4,500 passengers daily. With few passengers traveling through the airport only a handful of the 35 restaurant locations remained open for travelers and employees.

Midway Partnership is a joint venture comprised of Vantage Airport Group, SSP America, and Hudson.