Chicago’s Lakeview Pantry celebrates grand opening of first permanent home June 1, 2016

After renting space in Lakeview for more than 40 years, Chicago’s Lakeview Pantry will celebrate the grand opening of its first permanent home June 25. The organization bought a 7,500-square-foot building that will nearly double its space just a few blocks away from its current food distribution site.

“Thanks to tremendous donor support, IFF loan services, and our wonderful volunteers, we are forging a new chapter for the Pantry that will allow us to do even more for those in need,” Executive Director Kellie O’Connell said. “We have outgrown our current space because the needs are so great. We are grateful to now be able to maximize our impact in the community and put down enduring roots.”

Founded in 1970 and supported by area residents, the pantry has provided emergency food assistance and other critical services in the Lakeview neighborhood. The pantry distributes over 1.6 million pounds of food or 1.3 million meals a year to about 7,000 households, handling over 40,000 household visits annually.

In partnership with IFF, Lakeview Pantry worked with architecture firm Wheeler Kearns to design the interior space and Friedler Construction to complete the build-out of the property. This marks the second time Lakeview Pantry has turned to IFF to identify and plan for a larger location. IFF also approved a $1.5 million loan to buy and renovate the building, including for accessibility and code improvements.

To raise additional funds for the project, the largest food pantry in Chicago launched a $3.5 million capital campaign in 2012. Most of the gifts have come from individuals and organizations with strong ties to the Lakeview community, many of whom also volunteer at the food pantry.

The building’s first floor will house food distribution operations, where volunteers work with clients monthly to choose meats, nonperishables, and canned goods, and weekly for fresh fruits and vegetables. The second floor is dedicated to social services and features private spaces, allowing case workers to meet with clients to assess food, health care, job training, and housing needs. Work space for Lakeview Pantry’s 14 staff members also will be on the second floor instead of being scattered through the neighborhood.