North Side Church and Food Pantry Team Up to Serve Immigrant Community

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For the past 50 years, Lakeview Pantry has been serving the community on Chicago's North Side with food and social services.

"We have seen a huge increase in need, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. And even now, we are way above where we were last year," said Jennie Hull, Lakeview Pantry chief program officer.

Just a few blocks away, Saint Mary of the Lake Catholic Parish started the city’s first pop-up food pantry. The need was so great that the church served around 20,000 people between April and the end of June.

"We realize that a lot of folks were in need of food, especially from the immigrant and refugee community, and we were seeking to fill that need on a more permanent way," said Claire DesHotels, director of outreach and justice ministry at Saint Mary of the Lake.

The problem? People from the immigrant and refugee communities were leery of visiting a regular food pantry, because of fears of being deported. So, after the church shut down it’s pop-up pantry, the immigrants and refugees weren’t being served.

"With Saint Mary’s, there’s a relationship of trust there, so receiving food from us with minimal questions asked helped bridge that gap of serving more people," DesHotels said.

So when Saint Mary's started looking for a partner to handle their food pantry ministry, Lakeview Pantry was the perfect fit. The new partnership starts at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Lakeview Pantry, which is located at 3945 N. Sheridan Rd. That means those who need food the most can rest comfortably knowing they won’t have to answer a whole bunch of questions when they go to Lakeview Pantry on Sundays.

"The pandemic has really shown in our neighborhood that we really are brother and sisters after all, and that we really care for one another despite what we often see as a different reality," said Rev. Manuel Dorantes, pastor of Saint Mary's.

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