UIC biking club makes weekly food delivery to homeless shelter

UIC College of Cycling members

The UIC biking organization College of Cycling collects unused food from Dining Services each week and delivers it to Pacific Garden Mission. L-R: Dining services lead chef Richard Perry and College of Cycling members Asael Reyes and Rafid Rahman prepare food for delivery. Photo: R. Glass


Uneaten food from UIC Dining Services doesn’t get thrown out — it helps feed people at a nearby homeless shelter, thanks to students in a campus biking club.

The College of Cycling coordinates weekly volunteer bike rides to deliver donated food from UIC to the Pacific Garden Mission, 1458 S. Canal St.

“We really wanted to make sure COC wasn’t just a ride-your-bike type of club,” said president Rafid Rahman, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The group started with monthly rides to Pacific Garden in May, then expanded to weekly rides beginning fall semester. They deliver 30 to 80 pounds of food each trip — items like rice, beans, chili, vegetables and other cafe food, packaged in aluminum carrying trays.

“Last month alone, we were able to reduce our waste, help serve over 1,587 meals to the Pacific Garden Mission and work in partnership with UIC students to work towards making the city of Chicago a more sustainable and better place,” said Mary Dunn, district marketing manager for Chartwells Higher Education/UIC Dining Services. “A win for all of us!”

College of Cycling

Rafid Rahman and Asael Reyes on a delivery to Pacific Garden Mission. “We really wanted to make sure COC wasn’t just a ride-your-bike type of club,” Rahman says. Photo: R. Glass

College of Cycling also focuses on making UIC a more bike-friendly campus, with bicycle education, awareness and events. Their next outing is Oct. 30, when members will join the biking group Chicago Critical Mass for a Halloween-themed bike ride.

“We’re giving back to the community, and we’re helping UIC expand its reach,” Rahman said.

The College of Cycling plans to set up a monthly mobile bicycle fix-it station next spring, with parts, tools and an on-site mechanic. The mobile bike shop is supported by a $1,000 grant from the UIC Sustainability Fee, which funds student sustainability projects.

The club is working with the Office of Sustainability on a plan to create permanent campus bike lanes. “The cost and design phase is underway right now for the area near BSB,” Rahman said. He hopes the lanes will become a permanent part of campus within the next five years.

“We’re on the right path,” he said.

The College of Cycling welcomes undergraduates, graduates, staff and faculty as members. For more information, email collegeofcyclinguic@gmail.com

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