CHICAGO -- In observance of the 3rd Annual National Hunger Awareness Day, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn announced a $50,000 capacity building grant to the Illinois Food Bank Association (IFBA). This grant will improve the ability of Illinois’ nine food-bank facilities to deliver food to Illinois’ hungry and increase food distribution by 5%.
“These nine food banks were responsible for distributing over 72 million pounds of food to over 2,200 community agencies, soup kitchens and shelters,” Quinn said. “The face of hunger is not what people often think. Hunger affects everyday people, including single mothers, the unemployed and working parents unable to keep up with the rising costs of living.”
Nearly 35 million Americans lived in poverty in 2002, which is almost two million more than the previous year, and over 11% of American households experienced hunger. Approximately 22.5 million impoverished children take part in reduced-price or free school meals of which only 21% receive the same assistance during the summer months.
Hunger in Illinois has reached unprecedented levels and continues to grow. Between years 2000 to 2002, 11.3% of all households experienced food insecurity and requests for emergency food assistance increased by 19% from 2002 to 2003. Last year, the average monthly participation in the Illinois Food Stamp program was 953,929, one in ten people in Illinois lived in poverty and one in five children went to bed hungry.
“Food depositories have helped thousands of families, senior citizens and children who would otherwise go hungry without this service, and the alarming statistics of hunger will not go away unless we continue to support their efforts,” Quinn said. “I’m encouraging more individuals, foundations and corporations to support hunger-relief programs by donating capital, time or food -- no contribution is ever too small to help Illinois’ hungry.”
Quinn was joined by representatives from ADM Company, which will be donating a truckload of products in recognition of Hunger Awareness Day. Also in attendance to help fight hunger were student representatives from 4-H and members of agriculture groups from around the state. Donated resources and volunteers help sustain food depositories while keeping operating costs lows. According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a $1 donation provides four nutritionally balanced meals.
Launched by American Second Harvest and the National Food Bank Association, National Hunger Awareness Day was created in 2002 in response to the economic downturn and more Americans having trouble feeding their families.
Quinn made his announcement at a daylong nutrition conference for food depository agencies at the Chicago Food Depository’s new 267,073-square foot training facility and distribution center, which allows for over 42 million pounds of food to be distributed each year.
Illinois’ food banks serve all counties in Illinois and are located in specific regions of the state: Central Illinois Food Bank (Springfield), Eastern Illinois Food Bank (Champaign-Urbana), Greater Chicago Food Depository (Chicago), Hunger Connection Food Bank (Rockford), Northern Illinois Food Bank (St. Charles and Lake County), Peoria Area Food Bank (Peoria), River Bend Food Bank (Moline), St. Louis Area Food Bank (St. Louis, Mo., serving southwest Illinois) and Tri-State Food Bank (Evansville, Indiana, serving southeast Illinois).