Our History

A Tradition of Stable and Trusted Service

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 more than 30 staff, has 5,000 volunteers, and serves 15 different neighborhoods throughout the north and west sides of the city. In 2020, we’re on track to provide more than 100,000 clients with 4 million meals through 57,000 site visits, Online Market orders, and dozens of community pop-up partnerships. We also provide critical social services including mental health counseling, job search support and crisis intervention.

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.

Support the Next 50 Years

With multiple food distribution programs that deliver more than 2.8 million pounds of food to our neighbors each year and social services that help clients achieve independence, Lakeview Pantry aims to end hunger for good.

Help us continue our critical work in the community by donating today!

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1970

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.

1976

The most successful Board fundraiser of 1976 included a square dance raising $350 

The second most successful — Christmas caroling on Broadway — brought in $200.

1980

Lakeview Pantry becomes one of the founding members of the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD).

GCFD has grown to be the number one food donor to Lakeview Pantry, providing us with 45% of the food we distribute each year.

1985

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.

1986

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.

1989

Lakeview Pantry launches a home delivery program for individuals with disabilities in need of food.

Serving five homebound people that month, the program has grown to serve 190 people each month today.

1992

For the first time in our history, Lakeview Pantry becomes a multi-staff organization.

Christina Whitehead is hired in the position of Assistant Director. Christina will remain on staff until 2007 and is credited with professionalizing our development efforts.

2000

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.

2002

Lakeview Pantry moves from the Jane Addams Center.

In 2002, we move into our beautiful new distribution site at 3831 N. Broadway.

2003

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 has doubled to 400.

2005

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.

2015

Lakeview Pantry acquires its first permanent building: 3945 N. Sheridan.

Construction is slated to begin in fall 2015 with move-in expected the following spring.

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.

2017

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.

2018

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.

2019

Lakeview Pantry opens its first satellite site in Humboldt Park and opens our 10,000 sq ft warehouse – The Hub, allowing for increased food storage and distribution. Later in the year, our Online Market launches, allowing clients the option to order groceries from a mobile device!

2020

Lakeview Pantry celebrates its 50th Anniversary!

With a dedicated team of Staff Members, Board Members, and Young Leaders, the Lakeview Pantry community is committed to our mission of eliminating hunger and poverty.

View Our Financial Documents

Lakeview Pantry is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. You can view the 990 forms we’ve filed with the IRS below.

Lakeview Pantry Exists Because of the Support of Our Neighbors.

With multiple food distribution programs that deliver more than 2.8 million pounds of food to our neighbors each year and social services that help clients achieve independence, Lakeview Pantry aims to end hunger for good. Get help today!

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Committed to a hunger-free chicago