Edgeville Buzz

Care For Real’s Director Lyle Allen Leaving Organization After 8 Years Of Service

It is hard to believe that it has only been eight short years since Lyle Allen took over the helm at Edgewater’s food panty Care For Real (CFR). But after growing the organization exponentially through the years, he has announced that he will be stepping down to pursue another opportunity.

When Allen took over the Executive Director position at CFR eight years ago, he saw the opportunity for growth at an organization that already had a meaningful impact on the Edgewater community. In that time he has developed it into a $7 million organization that serves over 50,000 people in need annually. CFR now distributes about 100,000 pounds of food each month, a number that is likely to increase in the upcoming years.

Care for Real, which is a 501(c)(3) not for profit that provides free services and programs to those in the Edgewater area and surrounding communities, has always been best know for for helping provide nutritious food to its clients. Since Allen took over he expanded initiatives including the clothing program and the pet pantry while also introducing a new transportation system with three pantry vans, on-site job training, and client referral services.

In April of last year, Allen worked with area companies, donors and grant providers to bring about a massive overhaul of their 4,000 sq. ft. space at 5339 N Sheridan. They reconfigured everything in order to improve traffic flow and provided a larger waiting room in the front of the building with double the seating capacity and lots of natural light. New individual workspaces for the administrative staff and a conference room were created in order to increase productivity as well as an updated clothing shop which is better organized for easier client access.

“I am inspired by how our community comes together in support of CFR,” said Allen. “Through financial contributions, in kind food and clothing donations, volunteering and embracing CFR in so many ways, it’s truly been an honor leading this organization that is a beloved institution.”

Allen is moving on to become the first Executive Director of The Talking Farm (TTF), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation at 3669 Howard St.
in Skokie which provides education, example, and hands-on experience to members of the community to expand the awareness, importance, and availability of food grown sustainably. His last day at CFR will be in mid-June.

The new position at TTF will give Allen the chance to manage another organization that has immense room for growth. The job will also bring him back to his early roots (no pun intended) when his family owned a garden center and wholesale pottery business in his home town of St. Louis.

In those early days, Allen would come to Chicago often to buy Italian pottery for the family shop. That is when he and his partner fell in love with the city and eventually moved here 25 years ago. He transitioned to the not-for-profit where he helped lead organizations like The League of Chicago Theaters and Green City Market before his days at CFR.

At TTF, Allen will manage a farm that currently produces 21,000 pounds of organic, sustainably grown produce that is hand-picked by its farmers and sold throughout the city. According to him, the organization is ready to expand into a bigger urban farm oasis that is located in the middle of a sprawling metropolitan area.

“I am thrilled to be named TTF’s first Executive Director that pays tribute to my parents and upbringing,” Allen added. “This position speaks to me on such a personal and professional front bringing my career full circle. And I’ll still continue to feed people, just in a different way.”


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