Pilsen Food Pantry opens new facility, offers support for migrant families

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Monday, October 16, 2023
Pilsen Food Pantry opens facility with support for migrant families
The Pilsen Food Pantry held a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday and opened up to new arrivals as the Chicago migrant crisis grows.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new food pantry opened Sunday in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, where an influx of migrants has created an increase in need for aid.

The new Pilsen Food Pantry facility is located at 2124 S. Ashland Ave.

A ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony was held at 10 a.m. Sunday.

The pantry's founder, Dr. Evelyn Figueroa, has a passion for serving her community that only continues to grow.

"This is beyond my dreams," Figueroa said. "We have just exploded."

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The Pilsen Food Pantry has been around for 6 years, but the organization's new 8,000 square-foot facility is a game changer.

"We now support 700 to 800 families a week with food and clothing at the Pilsen Food Pantry," Figueroa said. "We take care of as many people now in the first two months of the Pilsen Food Pantry as we did in the first year of operation."

Figueroa said the food pantry is the only one in Pilsen to provide produce and non-perishables five days per week.

"We have clothing four days a week, and in this location, we've expanded to also have bedding and small houseware, since we're helping a lot folks that are relocating," Figueroa said.

With bus loads of migrants coming to Chicago from the southern border, Figueroa said about half of the clients benefitting from the Pilsen Food Pantry are new arrivals.

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"Almost all of our clients are immigrants," Figueroa said. "We are an immigrant-serving organization. Pilsen was built by immigrants, as we know. Bohemian immigrants, and then, in the mid to last century, mainly Latino immigrants."

The labor of love would not be possible without the help of countless volunteers. One volunteer, Timur Rusanov, has been giving time at the food pantry for a year-and-a-half.

"You sleep a little better, I guess," Rusanov said. "But it's like, why not? It's so little effort for a good contribution, and I enjoy doing it."