It was 1930 the heart of the depression and the poor and needy in Chicago were suffering like tens of millions across the country. Meanwhile Al Capone as part of the fallout from the St. Valentines Day Massacre had the Feds on his tail. They were determined to see him behind bars and were getting close so it was time for some good publicity.
One of the poorest and crime ridden sections of the city was in the south loop. It was also part of the turf of the Capone gang. Scarface decided to do what the government at the time wasn't, feed the poor. So in 1930 he opened a soup kitchen at 935 S. State and began serving the needy using food generously “donated” by local merchants Al fed an average of a thousand people a night. On Thanksgiving day that year 5,000 hungry souls dinned.
In doing my research for this story I kept thinking about “Robin & the Seven Hoods”. A 1964 rat pack musical comedy set in the roaring 20's Chicago gangster world. It's a delightful film with a true all star cast featuring; Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Peter Falk, Victor Buono & Edward G. Robinson. The music was by Nelson Riddle and featured the Oscar nominated song “My Kind Of Town”
The story is fictional and bears no resemblance to the actual events of that time. It takes the outline of the events of the time as a starting point for their story. In the case of Capone's soup kitchen we see that turn up in the film when good guy Bing Crosby convinces Frank Sinatra that he could get some badly needed good publicity by helping the poor. So Robbo (Frank's character) starts a string of soup kitchens.
It's a movie well worth checking out. To read more about this film and it's troubled making, JFK was assassinated and Sinatra's son was kidnapped during the shooting, check out this link from TurnerClassic Movies.