Lakeview Pantry Celebrates 50 Years!
Feeding Hope Since 1970
50 years ago, a small dedicated group of neighbors – Jo Bolger, Kate Marshall, and Barbara Langer-Tchaou – began a grassroots effort to help their less fortunate neighbors in the Lakeview community. In their first year of operation, this small but mighty group – The People’s Pantry of Lakeview – collected food from local churches and temples, and held weekly drives at Treasure Island, Jewel and Evergreen Groceries. They served just under 100 people in 1970!
Today, Lakeview Pantry employs 30 staff, has 4,000 volunteers, and serves 15 different neighborhoods throughout the north and west sides of the city. On a yearly basis, we provide over 10,000 unique individuals with 1.7 million meals through 50,000 site visits, as well as provide critical social services including mental health counseling, job search support, and crisis intervention.
“From small beginnings come great things.”
The can-do attitude that embodied the early efforts of Lakeview Pantry is still strong today. As the hunger need in our city continued to grow and evolve, Lakeview Pantry adapted to meet that need. We are continually evaluating our programming with the ultimate goal of empowering our neighbors to gain the stability and independence needed to thrive.
So, as we enter our 50th anniversary year, we would like to reminisce and celebrate our past, but at the same time look forward to the future. A future of feeding hope with innovative approaches that will lead to sustainable changes and impact.
50th Anniversary Events
Celebrate this incredible milestone and attend one of our events below!
A Look at the Past 50 Years!
Opened in 1970, we originated from the efforts of a few dedicated neighbors who wanted to help people in their community who were struggling to secure the food they needed. Since that time we have grown into an organization that provides more than 1.7 million pounds of food to over 10,000 neighbors through almost 50,000 visits each year. Take a look at our historical timeline below.
Lakeview Pantry is incorporated as “The People’s Pantry of Lakeview”
Clients receive only a 2.5 day supply of food (today all clients receive approximately a 14 day supply). Food donation pickups were limited by the size of a Volkswagen truck that was donated to the group! In the first year of operation, we served less than 100 people.
The most successful Board fundraiser of 1976 included a square dance raising $350
The second most successful — Christmas caroling on Broadway — brought in $200.
Lakeview Pantry becomes one of the founding members of the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD).
GCFD has grown to be the second largest food donor to Lakeview Pantry, providing us over 400,000 lbs of food in 2019 (Trader Joe’s was our largest food donor last year with over 539,000 lbs donated).
For the first time in 14 years, Lakeview Pantry clients make more than 10,000 visits.
This is also the first year that the value of food distributed exceeds $100,000.
Lakeview Pantry hires its first employee: Gary Garland.
Gary will go on to become Lakeview Pantry’s first Executive Director and lead the Pantry’s efforts for 28 years.
Lakeview Pantry launches a home delivery program for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities in need of food.
Serving only five homebound people that first month, the program has grown to provide 3,600 deliveries in 2019.
For the first time in our history, Lakeview Pantry becomes a multi-staff organization.
A “Suggestion Box” is instituted for client feedback. Most importantly, later in the 90’s, the Pantry formalized its social services program!
Lakeview Pantry launches a “Donor Bill of Rights,” which outlines our responsibilities to those who make our work possible.
In 2000, we also implement client choice – allowing those coming to us for food to choose more of the products they receive. We also began a small emergency loan program to help clients with rent and utility bills.
Lakeview Pantry moves from the Jane Addams Center.
In 2002, we move into our the distribution site at 3831 N. Broadway.
We take over operation of the Lincoln Belmont Pantry and our Oakdale location is born.
By the end of the year, the number of clients receiving food at the site doubled to 400.
Lakeview Pantry receives funding for a new staff position, Director of Client Services.
The goal of the position is to help address the second part of our mission statement, “increasing the independence of our clients through self-help initiatives.” In its first year, the program assists 117 clients with concerns beyond food security.
Lakeview Pantry acquires its first permanent building: 3945 N. Sheridan.
Construction of the Sheridan Market began in 2015 and was fully operational by the summer of 2016.
Gary Garland retires, and Kellie O’Connell is hired as CEO.
The Pantry moves into 3945 N. Sheridan, changing the landscape of hunger relief in the city.
Lakeview Pantry wins numerous awards for the Sheridan site.
It begins its first and second phases of service expansion, increasing more than 11 sq. miles.
Lakeview Pantry increases operating hours by 25%, and releases an ambitious strategic plan.
Plan lays out goals of increasing access to working families and individuals, meeting clients where they need us most. The Oakdale location is closed to accomodate new program sites that better serve Lakeview Pantry’s mission.
Lakeview Pantry opens its first satellite site in Humboldt Park and opens our 10,000 sq ft warehouse – The Hub.
Our new warehouse allows for increased food storage and distribution. Later in the year, our Online Market launches, giving our clients the option to order groceries from a mobile device!
Lakeview Pantry celebrates its 50th Anniversary!