LAKEVIEW — A bright, colorful new home for Lakeview Pantry opened its doors to the hungry on Monday.
The food pantry's new location, 3945 N. Sheridan Road, has been under construction since August. Formerly The Houndry, the two-story building below the Sheridan "L" station is twice as large as the pantry's previous home at 3831 N. Broadway.
"This building has really been built by the community for the community," said executive director Kellie O'Connell.
The pantry has raised all but the final $400,000 of the $3.5 million campaign to fully renovate the building. The pantry also got a leg up with donated skylights from Wasco Skylights, while the HON showroom in Merchandise Mart sold its showroom furniture to the pantry for 10 percent of the cost.
The pantry had major help from IFF, a real estate consultant for nonprofits in the Midwest. IFF, formerly known as the Illinois Facilities Fund, finances construction loans and helps manage construction projects.
"Everyone has rallied behind the pantry to allow us to buy our first home here," O'Connell said. "The support they've given us all along has been remarkable."
While the pantry itself has expanded and added more space for food storage, a huge draw for the new building is the ability to house all the staff offices on the second floor. Previously, workers were split up into several rented offices around Lakeview.
In the days leading up to the opening, workers moved into their new office on the pantry's second floor, which also has a conference room and private meeting rooms. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
In the days leading up to the opening, workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on the pantry's first permanent home, which is located next to the Sheridan "L" station. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Bringing them together means, ultimately, more services for the 4,400 households that use Lakeview Pantry each year, O'Connell said. Unlike its cramped Broadway location, the pantry can channel clients directly from the food line to services upstairs.
"Instead of having to come back in the evening for nutrition classes or financial literacy, we have the space to do things concurrently," she said.
Doing so makes it easier for clients to access job training, mental health counseling and other social services they need. Only 3 percent of the pantry's clients are homeless — many are working but trapped in the cycle of poverty, O'Connell said.
Lakeview Pantry began serving food from its new home at 3945 N. Sheridan Road on Monday. [Provided/Lakeview Pantry]
The pantry's main lobby, one week before opening to the public. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Construction began in August on a permanent home for Lakeview Pantry next to the Sheridan "L" station. [Provided/Wheeler Kerns Architects]
"These are the people living down the block from you or working at Walgreens," she said. "We're trying to make sure they have the food they need for today so they can plan for the future."
With the added space and proximity to the Red Line, O'Connell said it's possible the pantry will even extend its borders beyond its current reach, which is generally from Fullerton Avenue to Montrose Avenue and west to Damen Avenue.
To celebrate the long journey to its new home, Lakeview Pantry will host a community open house from noon-3 p.m. Saturday.
Guests will have the chance to tour the new facility during a scavenger hunt featuring exclusive recipes from chefs such as Rick Bayless and neighborhood restaurants like Pizza Rustica.
The pantry is asking visitors to bring a box of cereal to help stock its new shelves.
After all, there are plenty of mouths to feed.
In the days leading up to the opening, workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on the pantry's first permanent home, which includes offices on the second floor. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Lakeview Pantry began serving food from its new home at 3945 N. Sheridan Road, formerly The Houndry. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
The pantry also gives away flowers it receives from local shops. [Provided/Lakeview Pantry]
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