A Word from Ina Pinkney – Chicago’s Breakfast Queen

Meals on Wheels Chicago is thrilled to announce our guest of honor at this year’s Celebrity Chef Ball, Ms. Ina Pinkney, Chicago’s very own Breakfast Queen and long time advocate for the homebound community. Ina is an extraordinary person with a contagious and inspiring spirit. The Meals on Wheels team took some time to catch up with Ina and learn about her very personal connection to Meals on Wheels Chicago and her own experience navigating disability.

After my recent accident, I was in the wheelchair with my leg immobilized for months, and all I could think was – I can’t cook anymore. I started to think back to my first encounter with this issue. It was September 1977 when Gael Green and James Beard got together and decided there needed to be a way to feed elders in New York City. There was a whole aging population in NYC that was not able to eat a decent meal because they didn’t have the facilities in their apartments or were immobilized and couldn’t prepare the meal themselves. Their work made me conscious of how essential it was that people get to eat nourishing food in a nurturing environment. For homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities, that nurturing environment is in their homes – so how are we going to feed them while keeping them in that nurturing environment? That is why Meals on Wheels Chicago is so important. The organization keeps our homebound neighbors safe and fed right in their own homes.

Their work made me conscious of how essential it was that people get to eat nourishing food in a nurturing environment. For homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities, that nurturing environment is in their homes.

I have always felt a personal connection to the mission, and once Meals on Wheels started in Chicago, I knew was going to support every one of the galas. There I was sitting in a room with all these extaordianry and committed chefs making glorious meals for people who cared about the cause so much, and it was so comforting to be in that room because the mission has always been personal for me. And now, all these years later, I am the guest of the honor at this year’s Celebrity Chef Ball and it is such a pleasure to continue being part of the work.

When I got home from the hospital after my accident, I was home, but I didn’t feel AT home. I couldn’t reach anything, I couldn’t prepare food, and I felt completely isolated. It felt like a crisis. How was I going to feed myself? How was I going to get well if I couldn’t eat? I realized I really am an elder now. I am 76 years old and this life altering injury brought it home. I really had to understand on a much deeper level what it’s like to feel isolated and alone. As prepared as I thought I was, I was not prepared to be disabled in this way.

I support and feel so connected to Meals on Wheels Chicago because they are creating a community where someone can ask, “what is going to happen to me now?” they have a city full of people to fall back on for help. I encourage you all to come to Celebrity Chef Ball and raise funds for the homebound population in Chicago who can no longer nourish themselves.

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Photo of a Meals on Wheels Chicago Client: Share a meal with someone in need.