Al Capone Started One Of The First Free Soup Kitchens

Grace Higgins | January 28th, 2020

During the Great Depression, a huge amount of Americans found themselves in poverty, unable to afford general amenities and many lost their homes. Some could not even afford to eat, and they found a very strange savior: Al Capone. The infamous Chicago gangster who made millions selling bootlegged rum and whiskey. Sometimes it is easy to forget great acts by people who were perceived as being evil. Definitely, the mobster ordered many hits and criminal activities, but he also fed millions.

America’s most notorious gangster helped set up and sponsored the operations of a free soup kitchen in Chicago that offered three hot meals a day. It server thousands of unemployed every day, and didn’t ask any questions. In 1930, the U.S. economy plummeted into the Great Depression and thousands walked around Chicago jobless. They all lined up for a soup kitchen that offered free soup, coffee, and doughnuts for the unemployed.

The public enemy number one, Al Capone, was the man behind this philanthropic venture and he was indeed one of the most unlikely of humanitarians. He was at the head of a multi-million criminal organization that was bootlegging, prostitution and operated gambling operations. His criminal syndicate was seen as one of the first mafias of The United States of America and it was funded largely off extortion, bribes, and murders.

Many shudder when they remember the dark times of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where Al Capone ordered the murders of over seven of his rivals all simultaneously. But many Chicagoans had much more pressing concerns and worries than the mob boss after the stock crash of 1929 then led so many into poverty.

Lines after lines of homeless people, whole families homeless, became a sight that was all too familiar. In November 1930, it was thought over 75,000 jobless Chicagoans lined up to register their name for benefits and newspapers reported that many were not typically dressed, hobos. These were well-dressed individuals who had found themselves off their feet and not used to being in this situation.

Apparently, the big boy, also known as Capone, couldn’t stand seeing people starve. So he rented out the storefront and started serving free meals every day, feeding the unemployed.

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