Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry is moving from Portage Commons, its home for the past three years, to 223 Center St. in downtown Hobart. | File photo
Donations may be mailed to the Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry, P.O. Box 1013, Portage, IN 46368, or made via PayPal on the pantry’s website, www.thekibblekitchen.com.
Updated: May 2, 2014 6:33AM
PORTAGE — The Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry is on the move and expanding its services.
The nonprofit organiztion, which provides pet food to low-income Porter County residents as well as financial assistance for dogs and cats to be spayed or neutered, signed a lease Monday to move from Portage Commons, its home for the past three years, to 223 Center St. in downtown Hobart.
Michelle Duca, the agency’s founder, learned earlier this month that the pantry would need to vacate its 1,300-square-foot space at 5882 U.S. 6 because the landlord, who had been allowing the pantry to use the storefront rent-free, had a business that wanted to rent the space.
Duca had hoped to find another landlord willing to offer a rent-free space, or someone to cover the rent. The pantry has been paying its own commercial insurance and utilities.
The Hobart location, which Duca said includes a 1,000-square-foot storefront and 1,000 square feet of warehouse space, is $900 a month in rent, something she called a major step for the pantry and a necessary one.
“The options were, we either pay rent or shut down,” she said.
With the new location, Duca will be expanding services to residents in Lake Station, New Chicago and those in Hobart living within the 46342 ZIP code. She hopes to eventually add the rest of Lake County and all of LaPorte County.
The pantry most likely won’t be up and running in its new location until sometime in May, or possibly as late as June 1, because of the logistics of the move and contacting the client base to let them know.
She’s hoping to work with another nonprofit group in the Portage area to help distribute pet food in the meantime, though the majority of clients ask for spay/neuter assistance. The pantry serves between 50 and 60 pets a month, 90 percent of which live in the Portage/South Haven area.
Duca said her goal is for the cost of rent not to affect the number of pets the pantry is able to serve. Toward that end, the storefront will sell pet-related items, T-shirts and pet furniture to help offset the cost of rent.
The rapid change, she said, is like starting a new enterprise.
“I like to use the analogy that we’re jumping off the pier into unknown waters,” she said.