FALL means Coats and our Annual Beer & Wine-Tasting Event!

 SAVE THE DATE! Sunday, October 25th from 3 – 5 p.m. 7th Annual Beer & Wine Tasting Fundraiser to benefit Irving Park Food Pantry! At the Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace. Wines, Beer, Food, Silent Auction – Join Us! Go to our home page and purchase tickets. Follow the “Buy Now” button. Also, if you have any goods or services you would like to donate to our Silent Auction, or if you’d like to help us plan the event, please email Lee and she’ll give you the date of our next planning meeting.


Erika School Supplies

Thank you to the group of volunteers who coordinated our school-supply distribution this past Wednesday. Giving out supplies were (l-r): Anjelys, Ariana, Erika, Amaya, Leslie, Vivianna, Alex, Jolie and Gianna. We thank them for their help, and we thank all of our supporters for helping our clients’ children start the school year right!

The Irving Park Community Food Pantry will be distributing WINTER COATS to our clients in October, so please check your closets for any gently used coats that you can do without and bring them to the Pantry. They can be left with food donations at the bottom of the stairs at the Grace Street Entrance at the Irving Park United Methodist Church or delivered on Wednesday mornings during the Pantry’s operating hours (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). All sizes and shapes of heavier coats for winter, for children and adults, are needed.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who attended the dedication of our new Herb Garden near our entry door at Irving Park United Methodist Church on July 25. It was a beautiful day and we appreciate the turnout at our festivities to introduce the garden. We thank everyone who contributed time, money and effort to install the garden and get it off to a good start. Special thanks to our special guests, including State Representative Jaime Andrade, Alderman John Arena and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Frank Avila, as well as representatives from other community groups that have supported our efforts.

The garden has been planted with a variety of herbs this year, with the intent to expand to plan vegetables (lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, etc.) next year in the first full growing season. Each of the boxes of herbs is being offered for “adoption,” allowing different groups to help care for it, weeding and seeding the herbs. Adopters to date include Irving Park Hispana United Methodist Church (cilantro), Irving Park United Methodist Church Youth (rosemary) and Carlson Community Services – Three Brothers Garden (basil). Other boxes are still available to adopt. We also are looking for donations to help us obtain an arbor, a secondary bench and security lights. If you are interested in adopting a box or helping with these needs, please call us at 773-283-6296 and leave a message for Vicci Rodgers.

In August, we began harvesting and distributing fresh basil, rosemary and thyme from the plants recently installed. About 25 small bags of herbs were distributed to clients within minutes of being picked. Thank you to Mimi Nguyen, who harvested the herbs and will continue to do so on a weekly basis this summer. The clients were quite surprised and excited to receive them. One intended to make a rosemary chicken, while another mentioned making spaghetti sauce. We are pleased we can make use of the garden already and have it be so well received! Please stop by whenever you are walking by Keeler and see how well our volunteers’ efforts have paid off.

THANK YOU to the four employees from Whole Foods Market Sauganash who visited during our distribution on August 12 and helped create food bags and perform other chores. We are always willing to work with companies that would like to organize employees to volunteer with us for a day.

As of August, it has been two years since the Pantry began opening for two night-time hours on the second Tuesday of each month. We are happy to say that our numbers continued to rise in the second year of the program. In our first year, we served an average of 36 households each month with 105 people. In our second year, we served an average of 54 households each month with 152 people. In our largest month in the first year (July), we served 53 households with 149 people; this year, in our largest month (December), we served 71 households with 219 people. Best of all, the program signed up 67 new households this year, totaling 153 new people being served. They have been assimilated into the Tuesday night and regular Wednesday distributions.

We appreciate all of the volunteers who have helped to make this new service a success and hope we can continue to see this program grow so we can serve even more households.