Louie G Food Pantry collection shed has new home at New HopeFood Pantry/Branch Community Church
by BRIAN NADIG
The Louie G Food Pantry collection shed, which was installed in 2020 at Chase Bank near Milwaukee and Medina avenues in Gladstone Park, has been relocated to the Branch Community Church parking lot, 6125 W. Foster Ave.
The parking lot can be accessed from North Moody Street.
The New Hope Food Pantry, which is housed at the church, will be taking over control of the shed and the distribution of the donated items. New Hope has been one of the food distribution centers which the nonprofit Louie G Food Pantry has teamed up with in the past.
The food pantry was formed in honor of former area football coach Louis Gonzales, who was one of the first Chicagoans to pass away from complications associated with COVID-19. The pantry’s sheds are designed to be collection points for donations, which are then given to distribution centers operated by other nonprofits.
Since 2020 the pantry has collected thousands of boxes of cereal for a children’s summer breakfast program, large amounts of other non-perishable food items and monetary donations, which have been given to a variety of charitable groups. The Mission of Our Lady of the Angels, Saint Vincent DePaul Society, Sunday Suppers and the Niles Township Food Pantry are among the organizations which the pantry has partnered with in addition to New Hope.
“We want to thank the entire Louie G Food Pantry community, near and far, for all the donations, support and love that keep this amazing giving machine alive and Coach Lou’s legacy of giving himself at the forefront. We hope for your continued support and understanding as we transfer our social media and efforts to New Hope Food Pantry,” Louie G Food Pantry organizers posted on Facebook.
Organizers added that New Hope, which is open for distribution on Tuesday mornings, has the logistics and resources to best distribute and mange the donations to the Louie G collection shed. New Hope was founded in 2004 at a Norwood Park church and earlier this year moved into its new home in Jefferson Park at the Branch Community Church.
Louie G Food Pantry treasurer Joe DiCiaula said that the pantry accomplished its goals of highlighting the food needs of struggling families on the Northwest Side and nearby communities, honoring the legacy of “Coach Lou” and providing an outlet for community members to gather and volunteer during the pandemic.
The pantry worked closely with several area schools, including Notre Dame College Prep and Saint Patrick High School, whose students volunteered to help collect and distribute food. The pantry has sponsored scholarships for local students.
DiCiaula said that the collection shed at New Hope will continue to be named after Coach Lou and that the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association is renaming its scholarship, which is given to a local high school graduate who is going on to college or trade school, after the coach. DiCiaula also is the GPNA president.
The pantry has had a second collection shed at Signature Bank, 7292 W. Devon Ave. The bank is planning to continue to operate that shed and ensure the donated items are given to the area distribution centers and outreach groups, DiCiaula said.