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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Common Pantry’s New Lincoln Avenue Headquarters Aims To Open By Spring, Leaders Say

The new home of the North Center nonprofit food pantry will have a large dining space, commercial kitchen, grocery shopping area and more.

Volunteers and staff organizing food at Common Pantry's longtime home at Epiphany United Church of Christ.
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NORTH CENTER — Construction is underway at Common Pantry’s new North Center headquarters, with plans for it to open in the spring. 

The nonprofit food pantry bought the one-story commercial building at 3900-10 N. Lincoln Ave. for $1.5 million in 2021 with the help of state grants. The new building is about three blocks away from its current home inside Epiphany United Church of Christ, where it’s been based since 1988. 

The nonprofit’s leaders worked with Wheeler Kearns Architects to design the new headquarters. Construction began earlier this month and should be complete by spring, said Margaret O’Conor, Common Pantry’s executive director. 

“We are delighted to be starting construction on the new space, which will allow us to improve the quality of our programs, like nutrition-focused initiatives with other nonprofits, in a location with greater visibility and easier access for those with physical challenges or mobility issues,” O’Conor said.

The headquarters will feature a large communal and dining space, a commercial kitchen that will be used for a weekly hot lunch program, a grocery shopping area, an outdoor courtyard, a multi-purpose room and a volunteer room, O’Conor said.

The facility will also have an expanded kitchen and an upgraded walk-in refrigerator and freezer thanks to the donation of commercial-grade kitchen equipment from Meta and the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“Moving less than four blocks away, we can stay in our long-established community with our welcoming neighbors while better serving people in need from our own building,” O’Conor said. 

The nonprofit food pantry has offered assistance to North Siders experiencing hunger and food insecurity since 1967. Common Pantry also provides housing assistance, legal referrals, support for people experiencing homelessness and job search help.

Common Pantry expanded its operations during the pandemic to meet a nearly 200 percent increase in demand for food in 2020, leaders said. 

“Getting underway with construction and moving into our own building marks a major milestone for Common Pantry and our community,” said Charles Herrig, Common Pantry’s board president. 

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