Common Pantry Chicago opens new food bank facility in North Center

Leah Hope Image
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Common Pantry opens new facility in North Center
Common Pantry Chicago food bank, which uses a market model to serve people struggling with food insecurity, has opened a new facility in North Center.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Common Pantry, which uses a market model to serve people struggling with food insecurity, opened a new facility in North Center Thursday.

"I'm so happy for them," said Rosie Cruz, who uses Common Pantry to get food for her family. "The church was nice ad everything but this, this is like a lottery."

The 56-year-old organization held a grand opening for their new facility on Lincoln Avenue. Executive Director Margaret O'Connor said they created the space with state grants, contributions from the community, and input from guests.

"They can walk in, there are stairs, they talked about having a light filled room there is lots of natural light," she said.

What Common Pantry could not have anticipated was the skyrocketing need for their services.

"This is unprecedented," said O'Connor. "I think everybody feels the pressure, all of our peers are seeing unprecedented numbers coming through."

Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed by the ABC 7 Data Team shows that the supplemental poverty rate rose from 7.8% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022.

Common Pantry had been serving around 300 households a month before the pandemic, but in the first month in their new space they served 899 households.

Cruz said health issues forced her to stop working as a nurse, and as the matriarch of her multigenerational family of nine they have survived with help from Common Pantry.

"I'm very grateful for that," Cruz said. "This is like my second home."

Common Pantry's mission is to provide healthy food, kinship and support to help overcome poverty related challenges. It's ongoing work that I sow seeing the highest need in five decades of service.