Revamped St. Gall Food Pantry helps fuel Chicago's Gage Park community: 'This is how I survive'

1 in 5 households in Chicago face food insecurity

ByJudy Hsu and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
Revamped food pantry helps fuel SW Side community
The newly revamped St. Gall food pantry in Chicago's Gage Park did away with traditional pre-packaged boxes of food for a client-choice model.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The longtime food pantry at St. Gall Catholic Church in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood reopened its doors in September with a new and improved shopping model that thinks outside the box.

"We just did a wonderful renovation where it is client-based, where they come by and choose the items they want," said Rev. Matt Foley, Pastor of St. Gall Chapel St. Simon. "The food depository helped us buy refrigerators and get us shelving and a variety of instruments."

The reinforcements from the Greater Chicago Food Depository helped the pantry do away with more traditional pre-packaged boxes of food and provide the predominantly Latino community with more familiar staples.

"We try to get more like beans, chiles that we use, peppers, chicken all that good stuff," explained pantry coordinator Priscilla Estrada. "Now they get to pick what they need and don't need."

And that need is growing as families feel the pinch of inflation.

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"People are really stressing on the cost of just basic food items," said Foley. "So we serve anyone from small families, to large families to seniors that are need of basic necessities in their home."

"This pantry was a Godsend," said Jaqueline who lives nearby.

She said her social security and disability checks are not enough to make ends meet.

"This is how I survive, I come here every two weeks and then if my health is good I try to travel to other pantries to fill my refrigerator," said Jaqueline.

And like many of the other community members, Jacqueline said she lets no food go to waste.

"The last pack of chicken legs, I made some baked, some fried, I cut some of the legs off and I made chicken stir fry with the rice-laughs, I made chicken tacos - I can cook," said Jaqueline.