History of the Pantry
In 1971, the Women’s Fellowship Circle of the First Congregational Church of Des Plaines established the Self Help Closet & Pantry, which offered food, clothing and small household items to Des Plaines’ needy. A small group of about 10 women operated the SHC&P in the church basement for several years. As the client base increased, the Pantry has moved its facility several times to the present location at 600 E. Algonquin Road.
In 1987, the Pantry incorporated as an independent, not-for-profit organization. Today it is governed by a Board of Directors and has a volunteer staff of about 70 and one part-time employee serving as Executive Director. The Pantry serves an average of 1000 persons per month as compared to 800 per month in 2008. New clients are registered each Tuesday and Saturday.
Local schools, churches, businesses, fraternal organizations, and individuals, as well as the city of Des Plaines, provide the majority of food and financial support to the Pantry. The Pantry’s trademark “Red Barrels” serve as a visual reminder of the Pantry and are to be found in about 50 locations around town, including in the lobby of St. Mary Church. Donors can drop their non-perishable food items in these barrels where volunteers collect them for the Pantry.