LANSING | It has been three decades since a group of women affiliated with the Assembly of God Church gathered to create a food pantry to serve residents in need.
Now, the Lansing Community Pantry has grown to an organization that services about 160 families – double what it was just five years ago.
The pantry’s co-chairman, Karen Adams, said she hopes that number doesn’t continue to increase.
“If it does, it means the economy is getting worse,” she said, while adding that the organization, still located in the basement of the church at 2990 Ridge Road, will not shirk its duties.
“We’re not connected to the church, we’re a community organization that is here to help all,” Adams said. “We don’t receive government funds, and we’re pleased with that.”
The food pantry plans to hold an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 10, with Adams saying that all people are invited to visit the facility and get a better understanding of the degree to which it tries to help people in need.
This pantry, which operates separately from the Thornton Township Food and General Assistance Center, 15340 Page Ave., in Harvey, makes efforts to provide all sorts of food supplies from meat and vegetables to items such as soap, toilet paper, shampoo and toothpaste.
Some of those items are purchased from the Greater Chicago Food Depository or from area grocery stores, although those same stores also donate some items to the Lansing Community Pantry.
That is in addition to donations the pantry received this summer and fall from Thornton Fractional South High School, which had a student-grown garden that provided an assortment of vegetables for distribution to local residents.
Adams said the high school provided 1,200 pounds of vegetables this year, and she hopes that will continue in future years. “They gave us some things that we had never been able to offer before,” she said, adding that some recipients from the pantry went to the high school during the summer to volunteer their time in working the gardens.
“That was fun for them,” said Adams.
The community pantry’s greatest need these days isn’t any sort of food staple. Pantry officials are trying to figure out how to raise money to purchase a van to replace their current vehicle, which is 13 years old and has mechanical problems.
“We’re not necessarily looking for a new van, something a couple of years old would be fine,” Adams said. “But anyone interested in helping us, we’d like to hear from them.”
The community pantry currently is staffed with 35 volunteers who answer to a five-member board, whom Adams said all are unsalaried.
“This is a volunteer organization,” she said. “We have received tremendous support from the community. That is how we have been able to survive for all these years.”
In fact, that board has an annual meeting at which the community pantry’s policies are set. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the pantry, and Adams said the meetings are open to the public.