Food Insecurity Hits a High in Central Illinois

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS - Multiple food pantries in Central Illinois can make a dollar stretch for an entire week for one person.

During Hunger Action Month in September, directors of pantries in Decatur and Urbana are making people in the community more aware of a great need.

Kristen Bosch, the Vice President of Development and Community Partnerships at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana said, the statewide poverty statistic is about 13%. In 17 counties in Central Illinois, the poverty statistic is 17%.

That means many people have to make tough decisions to either buy medicine, gas or food.

"People are working really hard to make ends meet and a lot of those people are the working poor," said Bosch.

Statistics show on the Poor by Comparison report of 2013, 19,074 people in Macon County lived in poverty. In Sangamon County the number was 29,693 of people in poverty. While Champaign County had 40,848 people living in poverty.

More recently, “we have about 30,000 people right here in Champaign County that suffer from food insecurity. About 1-in-6 of our neighbors and 1-in-4 of our children," Bosch added.

As the Eastern Illinois Foodbank works to check off grocery lists, food is being distributed to 17 counties from one location in Urbana and one of those locations is Wesley United Methodist Church.

"In 2006 the eastern Illinois foodbank approached the church members," and they have been feeding people in the community since then Katie Thomas told WAND.

"This last month was our highest distribution. . . 250 families and our last two distributions at Parkland have been the largest all year," Thomas said.

At the Wesley Evening Food Pantry in Urbana, three church members started off servicing five families. That number is now 250 families since 2006.

Over in Decatur, 762 families were served at the Northeast Community Fund in just five days.

That was "The most we have ever served in a five day time period in the last 45 years Northeast Community Fund has been in existence," said David Hinkle the Assistant Director at Northeast Community Fund.

With so many needing a helping hand the time is now to help because Illinois still does not have a state budget and people are losing their jobs.
"We don't receive any state funding which is in situations like this is really a blessing for us. However, we are seeing those lines at the food pantries getting longer and longer," Bosch added.

"It affects us simply that we need more food and we need to figure out how to get that food and provide it for them," said Thomas.

"So far in 2015 we have served 520 new families that we have never seen before. More and more new families are coming in that really need the food," added Hinkle.

Hinkle said, the Northeast Community Fund is seeing about 10% new families lately who need food assistance.

Just one dollar can go a long way. If you want to help, log onto Donors can also help financially by going to the Northeast Community Fund on 825 N. Water St in Decatur. 

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