Common Pantry is delighted to announce that we are moving this summer! We purchased our new facility at 3908 N Lincoln Avenue in 2021, began construction in 2022, and will be ready to continue current services and expand our offerings to support our community this summer.

For the first time in Common Pantry’s 56-year history, we now own our building that provides dedicated space to serve people in need. Our new location is just 3 blocks from our current location. It is a single-story commercial property that previously housed two restaurants. The remaining restaurant, C’est Bien Thai, will continue to operate its restaurant at 3900 N. Lincoln Avenue, leasing the space from Common Pantry.

The building purchase was made possible by grants from the state of Illinois totaling $1.5 million which are in the process of funding. Until those grants are funded, we secured a mortgage from IFF, a leading nonprofit lender and developer, to make this purchase and pay for budgeted renovations. 

For over 30 years, Common Pantry has leased space in the basement of Epiphany United Church of Christ in Northcenter. It is only because of the support and dedication of the Epiphany leaders and congregation that Common Pantry has kept its doors open for more than three decades. We are so excited to build on these roots and move forward with a new home. 

Check out FAQ’s and opportunities about our new home below! 

North Side food pantry moving to new space to meet growing need

Common Pantry: Healthy food & support for a strong community

By Amy Rutledge, Tonya Francisco

Click here to watch the video

FAQs about our New Home

  • When will Common Pantry be moving?
      • All Common Pantry programs (pantry distribution, hot lunch, and social services) will be starting at our new home at 3908 N Lincoln Ave as of August 2nd, 2023.
  • We will have signage posted at our old facility to direct folks to our new space along with updating our website and socials with our new facility beginnings.

  • Will your hours or services change? 
    • No, our hours and services will all remain the same after we move into our new home. We will also not close down any of our programs during the transition. Our goal is to stay open and be there for our neighbors each week!
  • How, when and who can come to the pantry for assistance?  Will more days be added for distribution?
    • Chicago residents can come to our doors for groceries once-a-month in addition to attending our monthly Produce Day (third Monday of each month) and our weekly hot lunch as many times as they’d like. 
    • We will be focusing on moving and settling into our new space with our current hours and programs with the potential of additional distribution days to be evaluated after! 
  • What is the new facility like? What are the features?
    • The new facility is a 3,500 sq ft space that is not only 2,000 sq ft larger than the space Common Pantry was operating in pre-COVID-19, but is more open and was created with our staff, building committee, and architects behind every design decision.
    • Upon entering, the new facility opens to a large communal and dining space adjacent to the commercial kitchen that we will use to serve our weekly hot lunch and our grocery shopping area. An outdoor courtyard, a multi-purpose room, and a volunteer room are exciting additions to our space as well. 
    • Our refrigeration space is not only increasing, but is upgrading with new cold storage units, including a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, which were made possible by the generous donation of Greater Chicago Food Depository and Meta.  This will allow us to keep providing the fresh food options that we prioritize for our guests.
  • Tell us how the new facility will change/improve operations.
    • Guests will continue to select their own foods, but can also now expect to be properly greeted when coming through our doors, move more easily throughout the space, see more of what’s going on, and hear more clearly and with less noise overall. The space is accessible for those with physical disabilities or mobility issues. Visitors will continue to see the high quality and variety of fresh and non-perishable food items with our programs, but they can also expect new additions such as food samples, recipes, educational classes and workshops, and overall more connections to social services and resources in our communities.
    • Our kitchen capabilities will also be expanded greatly as we add high-functioning stoves, ovens, and flat-tops to our new space. This will allow us to continue our quest to home-cook delicious and nutritionally-balanced meals each week. The kitchen will also serve our new nutrition program by providing an avenue to safely and effectively prepare food samples and future teaching opportunities for our guests.
  • How has demand changed in recent years? What are you seeing now and how will the new building impact this? 
    • Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Common Pantry has increased in both its square footage and its reach. We opened our geographic borders for guests in April 2020 as we saw the overflowing need to serve anyone in Cook County. Our partners at Epiphany United Church of Christ shared even more space with us to aid us in adapting to the nearly 200% increase in demand we saw at that time. 
    • In March 2023, a record-breaking 850+ families came to our doors, making it the busiest month in the pantry’s history, even higher than during the months of the pandemic. 
    • Our new facility will allow us to continue to streamline our processes to serve our neighbors as demand continues to remain high.
  • How can I help? 
      • Like any new home, we have bigger responsibilities and are committed to meeting the expectations of many. We will need support as we get settled, fill our new space, and plan for the future. 
      • Help us today by taking a look at our wish-list for the new building or donating directly to our programs as we build a vision for the future. We welcome any support, big or small! Here’s what we can do with financial support of any level:
  • For the cost of a latte, you can provide milk and eggs for a household
  • $35 can buy 10 transit cards for clients
  • $50 donation can feed a family of four for a week
  • $150 can fund a hot lunch for 75 people
  • $250 can provide produce for 100 seniors
    • Follow us on social media or check out our website for more information. 
    • Spread the word to your friends, colleagues, and neighbors! 
  • What will happen to the space in Epiphany Church?
    • Common Pantry and Epiphany Church have been partners in mission to feed our neighbors for decades and will continue to support each other’s effort today and in the future. Epiphany 
  • What about parking? 
  • While there will be parking spots in front of the new building, free parking will be available on neighboring side streets and Damen (half a block away) with metered parking out front on Lincoln Avenue.
  • Will people be waiting outside? How will the flow of people work? 
    • With the increase in size of our new home, we will have a large communal area for guests to wait indoors while other guests shop for groceries. We also have our own private courtyard, away from the street, which will also serve as a waiting area and communal space for our guests and visitors to enjoy. 
    • Alongside the current level of demand and our increased visibility on Lincoln avenue, we anticipate people to flow through our doors into our waiting areas while we prioritize client-choice (which takes a little more time per client than pre-packing). With our recent increase in staff and our well-established security workers, we are committed to a smooth and positive experience for all our guests, visitors and neighbors.