CHICAGO — A North Side food pantry that has been providing emergency food and resources for decades is getting ready to expand in a new space.

Common Pantry, founded in 1967, has been operating from the basement of the Epiphany Church in North Center for most of that time.

“Common Pantry is the oldest continually operating food pantry in the City of Chicago,” executive director Margaret O’Conor said.

They are helping neighbors in a fight against hunger and food insecurity.

“Sometimes what happens is food ends up being the thing that people can’t source and that’s where we come into play,” O’Conor said.

O’Conor said the needs has risen sharply.

“It’s dramatic,” O’Conor said. “It’s just dramatic.”

Before the pandemic, the pantry served about 300 families a month. Now, O’Conor said, they are serving more than 600 families a month.

Families are also dealing with the impact of rising food costs and the COVID-related increase in SNAP benefits is set to expire at the end of this month.

To help meet the growing needs, Common Pantry is on the move.

Earlier this year, the pantry started renovations on its new building just a few blocks away in the 3900 block of Lincoln Avenue.

“We want to make sure we are providing a welcoming environment that’s accessible to everybody,” O’Conor said.

In addition to accessibility, the new space will have a large dining room, a commerrical grade kitchen, an outdoor area and a room for volunteers who power the pantry’s operation.

It’s an essential service to provide free food and connections to resources for families struggling to make ends meet.

The new space should be up and running by the summer.

Common Pantry is always looking for volunteers and donations.