Batavia council approves temporary location for Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry

Volunteer Melissa Sulita of Batavia stocks shelves at the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry and Clothes Closet.

The Batavia City Council voted Sept. 5 to approve a lease for a new temporary location for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry.

The pantry will move to a temporary location at 431 N. Raddant Road, according to meeting documents.

The food pantry’s original location at 100 Flinn St. will be demolished as part of the city’s $136 million wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation project.

Last month, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency awarded Batavia a $38 million low-interest loan for the rehabilitation of its wastewater treatment facility.

A new headworks facility will be built at the food pantry’s current location, Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm previously had said.

“We will relocate them to a new facility,” Holm said of the food pantry. “A headworks facility is where flows will first enter the treatment process. It’s the very first building where flows are treated.”

Last year, the food pantry was informed that it will receive a Community Funding Grant through U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, to construct a new space.

“The city has been fortunate to receive a $3 million grant through Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s office under the community project funding program,” Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said.

Newman said the distribution process for the grant funds will not be completed in time to build out the new dedicated space for the food pantry. A new permanent location has not been identified, according to meeting documents.

The temporary location, which is 8,500 square feet, also will house the Batavia Toy Drive and Clothes Closet, according to documents.

The food pantry’s board of directors has agreed to pay half of the temporary location’s rent. Newman said the city historically has covered all of the pantry’s rent and utilities.

“The rent is $6,623.36 for the first year and the second year is $6,888.29,” Newman said. “It’s a two-year lease, which will allow us the time to work through the [Housing and Urban Development] process, acquire a new location for them and also complete the buildout of that location.”

The Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry began operation in response to the 1981 recession, documents show. Demand for services has grown since the pandemic, especially as inflation has driven up prices for groceries and other necessities, Executive Director Eileen Pasero previously said.