NORTH CENTER — Common Pantry’s new North Center headquarters opened to the public Thursday.
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 facility will help the pantry serve more neighbors in need, officials said.
The nonprofit’s leaders worked with Wheeler Kearns Architects to design the headquarters and construction began earlier this year.
The new facility features a large community and dining space, a commercial kitchen that will be used for a hot lunch program and a grocery shopping area, said Common Pantry Executive Director Margaret O’Conor.
“When we purchased the building, we asked our guests what was most important to them. They told us they wanted a place to shop on their own, with their own grocery carts, a cool space in the summer and warm place in the winter,” O’Conor said.
New additions in the center include an outdoor courtyard, a multi-purpose room and volunteer room, she said.
“They wanted a space to be able to easily shop, with aisles made for everyone. They wanted a place where they could sit together and enjoy a meal in a space that is welcoming and accessible to everyone. And we built that,” O’Conor said. “The reality of this building sets up Common Pantry with the tools to expand our reach and community impact for our many years to come.”
The nonprofit food pantry has offered assistance to North Siders experiencing hunger and food insecurity since 1967. Its new headquarters is about three blocks from its former home inside Epiphany United Church of Christ.
The pantry offers emergency groceries, monthly fresh produce distribution, weekly hot meals and senior home delivery as well as other services to its clients, she said.
“We take a strategic, forward-thinking approach to reduce hunger and address the root causes of poverty, infusing compassion into everything we do,” Common Pantry Board Chairman Charles Herrig said.
Common Pantry also offers help with housing information, job searches, government benefits, health care and legal referrals, services for the homeless and government documentation, he said.
The new location will also allow the food pantry to expand its nutrition-focused initiatives with other nonprofits and offer easier access for those with physical challenges or mobility issues, the group said.
Elected officials including Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Ann Williams and Ald. Matt Martin (47th) all supported the organization’s effort to buy the building.
“Today marks the culmination of years of effort in envisioning, planning and construction to advance Common Pantry’s mission to feed and support our neighbors,” Feigenholtz said. “Improving access to healthy food is a critical issue for our community, here on the North Side, throughout Chicagoland and our state.”
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