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1980s:  Under the direction of our former Pastor, Fr. Charles Gallagher, St. Cletus Parish began an outreach to the neighboring community at Lenzi apartments, by providing supplemental groceries and assistance. This quickly started growing and we expanded to other nearby neighborhoods and communities.

The pantry was located in the rectory basement and open once a month.  Initially we served about 30 households with non-perishable food items donated by parishioners and community members.

Our operation began to grow more quickly. We began working more closely with Lyons Township and collaborating with other community organizations. We saw an increase in customers as well as an increase of support from churches, schools, clubs, individuals, and businesses.

2000s: We joined the Greater Chicago Food Depository as a member agency.  Volunteers started helping at GCFD to earn food credits and we were able to start receiving fresh fruits, vegetables, and nonperishable items. Pantry distribution moved into the Church Narthex to accommodate the growing need we were seeing.

2018: At this time, we transitioned into the rectory basement and increased to weekly food pantry distribution. Cold storage units were added to offer meat, dairy and other perishable items. A “client choice” model was established so customers could take a grocery cart and shop through the space for the items they wanted and needed most.

2020: This year brought great changes to our services as the entire world was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly shifted to pre-packed bags with curbside pickup. We never cancelled or closed. Even through the mandated stay-at-home order, as our church closed and grocery store shelves were empty, the community continued to support our work. Services increased dramatically as people lost their jobs and their incomes. We saw an increase of 126% as more households came for groceries.

2022: We transitioned into our new location! This beautiful space allows us to return to “client choice” shopping and accessible first-floor accommodations for all visitors. 

We were chosen by GCFD to be a Food Rescue Community Hub in 2023!  This grant allowed us to receive a refrigerated vehicle to expand our food donations. Our drivers pick up grocery donations from six different area retailers. The donations are used at the St. Cletus Food Pantry, as well as two other area pantries: Elsie's Pantry and Second Baptist Food Pantry.

The Future: On the horizon, we look forward to new opportunities for growth. In the coming months we will be rolling out a formal Grocery Delivery Program to homebound neighbors in our community. We invite you to stay tuned for this exciting program.

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