East Pilsen food pantry wants archdiocese to consider its offer to buy old church

CHICAGO — A closely used food pantry in East Pilsen has began a petition to encourage the Archdiocese of Chicago to consider the pantry’s offer to buy the old church the place the pantry operates.

The founder and director of the pantry, Dr. Evelyn Figueroa, mentioned the situation is the perfect location to serve underserved residents in the neighborhood and hopes the archdiocese will meet her on the desk so she will be able to hold the pantry going.

It’s open 5 days per week and is a staple for residents like Juan Franco.

“This is important for me because I’ve been struggling for two years,” Franco mentioned. “First, my son died then my son got sick.”

Since March 2020, the pantry has operated out of the previous Holy Trinity Croatian Parish on South Throop Street.

Figueroa mentioned the pantry is up to a median of 374 shoppers per week.

Back in February, Figueroa mentioned she submitted a proposal to the Archdiocese of Chicago to buy the property, together with the lot throughout the road, for about $3 million.

But she mentioned she hasn’t heard again from anybody in months.

“They haven’t responded to us even though they promised they would respond to us,” she mentioned.

She mentioned she thinks the archdiocese is ready on a greater deal.

“They’ve actually gone repeatedly to the alderman and asked the alderman to please sign off on selling properties in this community to developers other than non-profits,” Figueroa mentioned.

According to a consultant for the archdiocese, it’s the parish’s choice to promote or not promote a constructing.

“The St. Procopius Parish has not finalized plans for the former Holy Trinity Croatian Parish campus,” the archdiocese mentioned in a press release. “The parish will alert the food pantry when there are more specific plans and the pantry leadership will have the opportunity to discuss their interest further at that time. Since the pantry moved in at the outset of the pandemic, around March 2020, it has operated rent free and expense free at a sizeable cost to the parish. The parish has generously spent nearly $200,000 to subsidize gas, electric and water utilities, insurance and services, such as garbage pickup and maintenance.”

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Figueroa mentioned the situation is important and limits how they function.

“We can’t just move a mile west,” she mentioned. “A third of our clients come by foot. It will not be accessible for them.”

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