Niles Township Food Pantry Remodel Seeks to 'Serve with Dignity'

The newly renovated Niles Township Food Pantry is one that feeds the body, while nourishing the soul, making for an enhanced experience for the nearly 5,000 clients who visit the pantry each month.

As the need to feed the community grew over the years, so did the lines in the pantry which prompted a renovation process beginning in October, 2017. Today, the new spacious pantry allows for up to 20 shoppers at a time making for a smooth and easy experience. There are over 30 racks lined with baked goods and canned food items, grocery store-style refrigerators filled with eggs and dairy, and an abundance of fresh produce too. Best of all, our clients are empowered by the opportunity to self-select their food, complementing the pantry's motto to "Serve with Dignity."

"Today, our food pantry clients make 99 percent of the decisions when it comes to selecting their food," Pantry Manager Tony Araque explained. "This is a big change from the past, when we used to pack bags for our clients, based on their family's size and needs. Our goal now is for clients to have the chance to make their own choices and have a shopping experience all their own."

Along with more space within the pantry comes additional space in the surrounding areas. The vestibule, once small and cramped, is now a larger and more welcoming room, where clients can watch television, socialize and stay warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry during inclement weather.

There are portable shelves on wheels, allowing the pantry to be easily and quickly restocked with the shipments from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Three times a week, the pantry participates in a program called Food Rescue, where trucks visit grocery stores around the area, filling their trucks with meat, baked goods, produce and much more. Now, with additional shelving and refrigeration, food pantry staff can provide a home for the upwards of 10,000 lbs. of food that comes with each shipment.

The Niles Township Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:00 through 3:30 p.m. with extended hours on Tuesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Food and monetary donations are always welcomed.

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