Living on the streets is hard enough. Living on the streets of Chicago in the dead of winter is downright perilous, putting already vulnerable people at greater risk of mental illness, pneumonia, tuberculosis, bronchitis and malnutrition, among myriad health threats.

Angelo Corso, the founder of a Windy City nonprofit called Doughnate Pizza, knows he can’t save them all. But he can feed as many as he can find. And as the scion of the pizza-making family behind the venerable Angie’s Sports Bar & Pizzeria on Chicago’s south side, Corso chooses to nourish their bodies and lift their spirits with the world’s greatest food.

“Doughnate Pizza started just as a fun conversation with a friend,” Corso said. “We talked about the misuse of funds for nonprofits, how you never know where your donated money is going, and also how amazing it could be to incorporate the giving of our favorite food—pizza—to the homeless.”

Corso founded Doughnate Pizza, a 100% volunteer-based organization, in late April 2022, and it has since fed more than 6,000 people hunkering in shelters and huddling against the bitter-cold wind on street corners and in back alleys of the city. “For every single dollar that you donate,” Corso said, “you receive an email about which shelter received your contribution in pizza, how many people you fed, and what restaurant location we partnered up with.”

a smiling man, wearing a backwards cap and an apron, shows off a whole pizza topped with pepperoni and sausage

Doughnate Pizza counts on pizzerias like Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park to feed the homeless.

At present, Doughnate Pizza has more than 50 restaurant partners, from Chicago pizza legends such as Lou Malnati’s, Pat’s Pizzeria, Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, and Robert’s Pizza and Dough Co. to highly acclaimed upstarts like Zazas Pizzeria and Pizza Boy. In other words, homeless Chicagoans get to dig into some of the best pies in a city famous for its high pizza quality, thanks to Corso and his team of volunteers.

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Doughnate’s corporate partners include Matt’s Cookies, Medline and Dude Wipes. Community nonprofit partners include Lincoln Park Community Services, Deborah’s Place, The Night Ministry and Howard Brown Health, all of which have multiple locations serving people in need throughout the Chicago area. But wherever there’s a shelter or street corner in Chicago with hungry people, Corso is ready to deliver hot, fresh pies.

“We never ask our restaurant partners for free pizza,” Corso notes. “We ask for a discount on our orders so our donors’ dollars can go further in helping fight hunger and homelessness in Chicago. So when we have a meal we need to serve, we reach out to our restaurant partners to place an order. We receive anywhere from 50% to 70% off on our order, and we are tax-exempt. We just ask the restaurant partners what they would like to give as a discount, and they have been so generous and accommodating. With these discounts we can provide more food for more people. The donor’s dollar truly goes so much further.”

Corso or a volunteer picks up the pizzas and delivers it to the designated shelter. “In addition to pizza, we make salads and bring a dessert,” he said.

You’ll also find Corso and his team of volunteers out on the streets, bringing pizza to unsheltered people who might have missed their last several meals. “In addition, we work with nonprofit programs in Chicago. If they have an event or dinner service, we bring in the pizzas as well,” Corso said.

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Less than a year old, Doughnate Pizza is still “in the start-up phase,” Corso said, working to develop a sign-up calendar for those who want to volunteer and building out its infrastructure.

Corso keeps his donors and supporters updated on Doughnate’s good works through reels and posts on Instagram, where he celebrates the pizzerias that contribute to the cause and promotes the nonprofit’s own line of merchandise, such as T-shirts, hoodies and hats sporting the Doughnate Pizza logo. In a January 26 reel, he paid tribute to Zazas Pizzeria for providing discounted pies to feed more than 30 “beautiful individuals” sheltered by Lincoln Park Community Services.

Last October, Doughnate Pizza celebrated National Pizza Month with an initiative that fed the hungry and homeless every single day throughout the month. For example, residents of the Broadway Youth Center, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth, enjoyed pizzas from D’Agostino’s Pizza and Pub and Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park. Clients of The Night Ministry, a nonprofit for people struggling with homelessness, poverty and loneliness, feasted on pies from La Crosta and Zazas Pizzeria.

a happy-looking young man in a t-shirt takes a slice of deep-dish pizza with a long cheese pull at Angie's Sports Bar and Pizzeria

A customer enjoys a deep-dish pie at Angie’s.

Corso said he grew up in the pizza business—his grandfather, Angelo, founded Angie’s in 1959. “As he was finally building his dream restaurant and building out his bar, he passed away in 1974,” Corso said. “My father, who was the eldest son, finished the project and opened up Angie’s Sports Bar and Pizzeria when he was 16. Soon after, he had four locations when he was in his 20s.”

But a growing family made it harder to keep up with a multi-store operation. “He married my mother and started to have way too many kids, seven to be exact. They sold all the locations other than the original one that still is in operation today. My uncle runs Angie’s now, and it’s still a neighborhood spot with a lot of history.”

Corso even had what he calls a “short, embarrassing stint” at Kendall Culinary College, hoping to take over the family restaurant one day. But, he adds, humorously, “My father said he would never hire me. It was probably for the best.”

“Pizza, for me and my family, brings a lot of joy and happiness,” Corso said. “And living in Chicago, we are not short of pizza places…I wanted to give the same opportunity that I have to the homeless in Chicago.”

He even educates the people he serves about the art of pizza-making. Many of them are “critics of pizza,” he says. “I give them the breakdown of tomatoes, sauce, toppings, different types of cheese and, most importantly, the styles. Everyone loves pizza, and I am just happy I can share something that I am passionate about with those who are less fortunate.”

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