Putting food on the table this holiday season


While the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have significantly reduced the demand for air travel, we’re proud to continue supporting our local communities when they need us most. Since the start of the pandemic, American has donated about 1.7 million pounds of food to communities we serve throughout our global network.

Thousands of families in Chicago will gather at their dinner tables this holiday season to enjoy meals from American Airlines. The airline donated 5,000 frozen meals and 20,000 servings of cheesecake to benefit the local community – so those in need can have a special meal while celebrating the holidays.

Brett Sutherland, American’s manager of Airport Customer Experience Administration at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), joined several colleagues in volunteering at a mobile pantry to unpack, assemble and distribute dinner and dessert packages to Chicago residents. The line to receive meals extended down the block, with hundreds of families eager to fill their tables with food and joy in time for Thanksgiving.

“Volunteering at the pantry, I saw firsthand how badly the pandemic impacted families right here in the neighborhoods we call home,” said Brett.

The mobile pantry is run by the Mission of Our Lady of Angels, an organization serving one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. The Mission says the need for food assistance in their community is much greater than usual. Their food pantries are supporting three times as many people as they did last year, serving food to about three thousand local families each month.

“Due to high cases of unemployment, people are having a difficult time putting food on the table. So, the fact that American can provide meals and volunteers to help us get food to our neighbors is incredible and we are very grateful,” said Bishop Bob Lombardo, Director of the Mission of Our Lady of Angels.

The donated meals consist of meat — such as wagyu meatloaf and hoisin chili pork — a vegetable and servings of cheesecake to make a complete holiday meal. The meals would have been part of American’s inflight meal service, but decreased flight schedules have left the airline with a surplus.

In addition to the mobile pantry donations, thousands of meals and cheesecake were dispersed this month to other organizations throughout the city. Since American started donating food product in April, the airline has donated close to 95,000 pounds of food and beverage to the Chicago area.

“I’m fortunate to work for an airline like American that supports others even when the company is experiencing its own hardship,” said Brett. “And I’m grateful for the chance to help brighten the holiday season for many of our neighbors on behalf of American and our team members.”

Team members volunteering at the mobile pantry.

Brett packs meals and cheesecake into packages to be distributed at the mobile pantry.