(630) 258-8976

Russ Pratali - President

Serving the needs of the Chicago community

River of Light was founded in 1989, after a chance meeting between Russ Pratali, President and founder, and Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Shortly thereafter, a friend asked Russ to pick up a pallet of cookies and bring it to the local food bank. While always active in local community service and volunteering, this particular day he witnessed firsthand the challenges that food agencies face to best meet the needs of the homeless by providing emergency food, household items and clothing.

Russ realized that there was a great need for retrieving healthy edible food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to those that provide assistance to the poor, the needy and the homeless. Now in its 30th year of food rescue service, River of Light feeds approximately 300,000 individuals nearly 900,000 meals per year. The healthy food that is recovered (bread & pastries, fruit, vegetables, milk products, etc.) is picked up from donating supermarkets and bread companies and is perfectly edible, but not sellable. This food, along with household items, is delivered to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, veteran centers and needy families throughout Chicago and suburbs.

Six days a week, volunteers deliver healthy food products — as well as coats, hats, gloves and blankets in the colder weather — to approximately 25-30 stops in the Chicagoland area. No child or veteran should go to sleep hungry!

Dedicated to picking-up and delivering donated items
to needy individuals and various organizations.

The Missing Ingredient to meet the increasing demand – Cargo Vans

With your continued help and support, we look forward to distributing more healthy food & household items and impacting more lives for 2020 and beyond. Despite Russ’s financial struggles, he has supported River of Light with his own personal funds and vehicles. But food products don’t have wheels. It has to be gathered and distributed. And that takes donations and transportation, and for River of Light, right now, it takes a van. Over the past 15-20 years our delivery trucks have been driven countless thousands of miles, through snow and over pot holes.

To continue our hard work, The River of Light desperately needs replacement vehicles. Without cargo vans, we would lose nearly all the donations we currently receive. Altogether, we would lose over 5,000 pounds of food a month that is desperately needed to feed our hungry guests. The need is immediate because, after all, we are an emergency food community service.

If you can help us or know someone that would like to donate,
please use our online donation form or contact Russ Pratali at
(630) 344-9815 or email russ.pratali@riveroflightchicago.org