St. James Food Pantry has been in existence since 1972 when Sr. Carlotta Oberzut, RSM, a teacher in the parish school, formed a food distribution program as a means of assisting needy school families. From that small, but effective start, the food pantry has emerged as one that extends compassionate support to its neighbors, serving on average 1,500 households each month.
For many years St. James Food Pantry has been a beacon of hope for families and individuals living in near-by public housing and the elderly living in several of the Chicago Housing Authority Senior Buildings.
When the food pantry started, it was housed in the basement of the church rectory with only two full time employees and around 70 volunteers. In 2003, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago offered St. James a rent-free space at its 2907 South Wabash building. This is the building where the pantry and administrative offices are currently located.
Since moving to its new location the pantry has expanded its services, providing assistance to meet basic needs as well as empowering clients through education. In general, the St. James Food Pantry programs are designed to help individuals live with dignity.