IRVING PARK — A New Year’s Eve fire has forced the Irving Park Community Food Pantry to postpone its first food giveaway of 2022.
The food pantry at 4256 N. Ridgeway Ave. typically gives clients three days’ worth of food 9-noon Wednesdays and 6-7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. But the organization canceled its Wednesday food distribution after fireworks set off in recycling bins on New Year’s Eve damaged the front door of the church where the pantry is located, said John Psiharis, the pantry’s executive director.
The building damage was minimal, no one was hurt and there was no damage to the pantry, but the area needs to be remediated because of the smoke, he said.
“We are closed because, as a result of the fire, there is a high level of carbon monoxide in the ventilation system and ducts that needs to be remedied before people can enter,” Psiharis said in an email. “At the moment, it is an unsafe environment for our volunteers and clients, so we needed to close for the week.”
The team is working to reopen for its normal services Jan. 11 and Jan 12. The pantry had its last giveaway Dec. 14 and was closed through the holidays.
“We are frustrated by this vandalism, which will prevent hundreds of our neighbors from receiving food this week, after we were able to find ways to remain open every week throughout the pandemic,” said Kathy O’Neill, a member of the operations team.
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