Lakeview Pantry is thrilled to announce the hiring of Natia Barnett, the organization’s first program expansion manager.

The new position is designed to help build new partnerships with trusted organizations in communities in Chicago’s South and West Sides that have endured decades of inequitable access to food and other resources.

“I am excited to join the Lakeview Pantry family and overjoyed at the opportunity to build new partnerships in communities close to my heart on Chicago’s South and West Sides,” Barnett said.

Barnett is no stranger to emergency food distribution. She joins us from her own nonprofit Village Minds, which she started in the summer of 2020 in response to the pandemic and civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd. She saw a need in her home community of South Shore to provide groceries to older adults who either couldn’t get out to the store or didn’t have an open store to access in their neighborhood.

“We are thrilled to welcome Natia to help us expand our programs and serve more people throughout Chicago,” said Kellie O’Connell, CEO of Lakeview Pantry. “This marks an important new chapter for us as an organization.”

Early in the pandemic, Barnett rallied her neighbors to deliver bags of groceries to older adults at home on the weekends. For the past year and a half, Lakeview Pantry has partnered with Village Minds, supplying orders each Saturday.

That home delivery service — and other food and social service partnerships — will only grow with Barnett joining the Lakeview Pantry team, O’Connell said.