Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=226044
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TURKEYS

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Single fathers had to go elsewhere, because Ald. Roberto Maldonado's office was only giving away turkeys to single mothers.


Alderman gives free turkeys to single mothers – single fathers need not apply

by Sean Kennedy
Nov 26, 2013


Giving away 7,000 pounds of free Thanksgiving turkeys to single mothers in need is a great way to spread holiday cheer, right?

Not when you exclude single fathers from the giveaway.

That’s exactly what happened in the 26th Ward yesterday, when single fathers and their children were turned away from Ald. Roberto Maldonado’s annual Thanksgiving giveaway in Humboldt Park.

“It's sad. The food is not going to families in need. It's going to people that meet a certain criteria, which I do not. I hope the photos and canned interviews are worth it,” ward resident Michael Young said after he and his son Griffin, 13, were turned away from the event.

This is the fourth year of the giveaway, and by far the largest. The first year, Maldonado gave away 26 turkeys, but the program has grown every year since. This year, the turkeys were donated by Riot Fest proprietors Mike Petryshyn and Sean McKeough, who saw a way to give back to the community that hosts their three-day music festival in the park itself.

“Well, we only have so many turkeys, so we have to target the best we can,” Maldonado’s chief of staff, Kathleen Oskandy, said.

Single-parent advocates see that thinking as indicative of a larger problem of perception.

Nicole Howell, founder of the American Association of Single Parents, based in Chicago Heights, groaned when told of the giveaway.

“It’s very unfortunate. Custodial parents can be male as well as female,” Howell said.

She says single fathers are an often-overlooked demographic, though the U.S. Census pegs the number of single fathers in the country at 2 million. That has a detrimental effect on children.

“The issue is with the kids, not the parents.”