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Suburban Chicago couple's market and ice cream parlor feeds their community

Evanston, Illinois couple take on mission to feed community
Evanston, Illinois couple take on mission to feed community 04:01

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) – An Evanston couple with a little store and big hearts is making a difference by fighting food insecurity in their community and beyond.

Hunger knows no bounds. It can hide in unexpected places, even on Chicago's North Side, but Evanston couple Clarence and Wendy Weaver are trying to change that one bag of groceries at a time.

Early one morning at the corner of Church and Dodge in Evanston, workers and volunteers were already busy over at the C&W Market & Ice Cream Parlor.

It was food giveaway day.

Twice a month, cars line up down the street and around the block to get two one-pound bags of very fresh food.

"Today, we're giving out fresh produce, fresh meat, non-perishables," said Wendy.

But it's not just about food. The C&W Foundation is all about feeding the soul of the community.

The "C" and "W" are Clarence and Wendy Weaver.

"We felt that if we could be professionals with others, we should be able to figure out how to be professionals with each other," Clarence said.

As longtime Evanson residents, they co-founded their corner store, ice cream parlor, and deli in 2014 as a part-time venture.

But then, "We came into the store and started working full time doing this and realized how much we enjoyed it," Wendy said.

But things turned serious when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Evanston officials reached out.

"'You have a grocery store. I see you're doing well with essential items. We would like you to partner with you in providing bags of groceries to a certain group," Wendy said. "And we said, 'For sure.'"

Wendy added that the demand grew from 25 families to 50 and then 50 to 100, and then more than 200. Twice a month, anyone could come.

"You have a need. We've got food. We want to make sure that you have it," said Sydni.

But not everyone can make it to the giveaways. So Clarence showed CBS 2 the pantry downstairs that's full of donated canned goods, meat and more.

"We can always make sure that somebody that has a need in the community can be addressed," Clarence said.

And the community has helped the Weavers after a family tragedy in 2020.

"We lost our son," Wendy said. "He drowned in Lake Michigan."

CJ Weaver was a budding chef and just 32 years old.

"If we didn't have this, we probably would have been sitting down wrapped in our grief," Clarence said. "Because healing is continuous, right?"

Wendy added that she was able to "focus more on helping others and it helped tremendously."

Jesse and his co-worker at the parlor, Gloria, said the Weavers are the best.

"They are like my family and I'm so grateful," Gloria said. "I'm learning to cook. I like the kitchen. I love everything."

So many regulars expressed their gratitude to the Weavers for helping them to feed their families.

"We feel that there's a way for us to be able to make a difference," Wendy said. "It's a labor of love. Yes, it is. It's so fulfilling."

There are so many other ways the Weavers help people. They host a workplace development program for young people, and they deliver free food to dozens of senior citizens.

They said they want to expand their grocery business to serve even more people.

The C&W Foundation food giveaway takes off every other Saturday. To learn more, visit

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