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IFC's food pantry is temporarily moving to Historic Town Hall

ifc inter-faith food pantry
“It’s definitely a lot better organized than a lot of the non-profits I’ve worked with before,” Warner Lamar said. Lamar is a sophomore majoring in computer science at UNC-Chapel Hill and volunteers at IFC on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He says a lot of places operate more by an improvisational method and don’t have nearly as good as a system in place as IFC (Inter-Faith Council) does. Shot on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.

On April 1, the Inter-Faith Council For Social Service's food pantry will reopen its doors on the second floor of the Chapel Hill Historic Town Hall. The Chapel Hill Town Council approved the move on March 6.

The IFC is temporarily moving from their Carrboro location for about a year while their new building is under construction.

The old building will be demolished to create a new building, said Jackie Jenks, IFC executive director. The plan is to eventually co-locate the community kitchen and the food pantry, which are in two different buildings, as well as some of the organization's other programs into the new space, she said. The "community hub" will be three stories. 

IFC started a capital campaign around a year and a half ago and have raised $4.7 million out of their $5.3 million goal. Jenks said the IFC is hopeful to raise the remaining amount soon because the community gave generously to the campaign.

“Because there aren’t a lot of government funds, particularly on the federal level, that are available for this type of project, most of our funds are coming from private sources. So individuals, foundations, local congregations, churches and other congregations and then a little bit from local government,” said Jenks.

The new building will have group meeting rooms as well as a space where the community can learn out about current events, and various policies the local government is considering. 

The IFC is making plans to implement a member choice pantry in the new building. This model allows people to shop themselves, picking which groceries they want, rather than a volunteer selecting groceries for them.

“It’s going to be great because people can come in and they can receive a meal, and some groceries, if they need emergency financial assistance, they can get information about housing, and they can just see people they know and interact with folks in the community and then we really will have space to develop other programs as needed in the community,” said Jenks.

The IFC currently uses the basement and first floor of the Historic Town Hall for the Community Kitchen. Until 2015, they used the second floor for their men’s facility. The Town will continue to let the IFC use the Historic Town Hall rent free, and will cover utilities.

“We are not currently getting funds from this space, we are not shutting down one source of income,” said Donna Bell, a Chapel Hill Town Council member.

Bell said in the past, this is how they helped support services like the IFC in the community, and allowing them to use this space without cost is a continuation of this support. She also said the Town does not have any other plans for the space in their budget, so they are not having to stop plans for the IFC to use the space.

“The Town inspection identified maintenance and repair items that are required prior to occupancy,” Catherine Lazorko, communications manager for the Town, said via email. “These include a new fire door and some plumbing fixtures.”

Maintenance costs at the expense of the Town that must be completed before the IFC moves in are limited to $8,000. 

Kevin Foy, former Chapel Hill mayor, thanked the Town for helping the IFC continue its valuable work at the council meeting.

“These services that IFC provides are free to everyone, there’s no questions asked if you need help, if you’re hungry you can come to the kitchen, the kitchen is there right now," Foy said. "What the IFC does for the community in partnership with the Town is an extraordinary effort, and we want to reemphasize how much we appreciate all that you do across the board."

Jenks said in the next year, besides working on construction of their new building, the IFC will advocate for more affordable housing and their racial equity team will continue to work toward their goals.

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