CHICAGO – As the poor national economy continues to weigh heavily on Illinois families and as the cost of groceries and other household staples continues to increase, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is calling Illinoisans to action by declaring September as “Hunger Action Month.” Throughout the month, he is urging Illinoisans to help others in need by donating food, volunteering and participating in other activities organized by the Illinois Food Bank Association and its extensive network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
The Illinois Food Bank Association (IFBA), whose membership includes the state’s eight regional food banks, provides food and services to more than 900,000 people through a network of 2,000 pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. In Cook County, almost a half-million people, children and adults, rely on food provided by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a member of the IFBA.
Earlier this year, the Governor responded to the needs of thousands of families by launching the Food for Families program. He made an initial commitment of $1 million, which made it possible for IFBA members to purchase 1.9 million pounds of food, and help an estimated 37,500 families in need. Going forward, the Governor will continue to push for additional financial support for Food for Families program.
“More and more individuals and families in Illinois are turning to food banks and their member agencies to help make ends meet,” said Kate Maehr, president of the Illinois Food Bank Association and executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “We are grateful for Governor Blagojevich’s support of Hunger Action Month, which offers a number of ways for the public to respond to the rising need across Illinois.”
In 2006, Governor Blagojevich announced an innovative new plan to make it easier for low-income Chicago area families to receive Food Stamps. The IDHS Express Stamps project, which operates at eleven Chicagoland food pantries, is a collaboration between IDHS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), Northern Illinois Food Bank and America’s Second Harvest. Express Stamps simplifies the application process and meets the needs of families when they go to a food pantry for emergency food.
Governor Blagojevich also announced this year that an additional nine counties are participating in the 2008 Women Infant and Children’s (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market programs. IDHS and the Department on Aging provide funding for the program, which comes from a grant of nearly $1 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This year, Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Human Services joined a new public health initiative, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters, to inspire and encourage Illinois families to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The Governor’s proclamation reads as follows:
WHEREAS, hunger and poverty are issues of grave concern in the United States and the State of Illinois; and
WHEREAS, the State of Illinois is committed to taking steps to raise awareness about the need to combat hunger in every part of our state and to provide additional resources such as the Food for Families program for families and individuals in need; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Food Bank Association is committed to educating people about the role of food banks in addressing hunger and raising awareness of the need to devote more resources and attention to hunger issues; and
WHEREAS, more than 900,000 individuals in Illinois rely upon food provided by the members of the Illinois Food Bank Association annually; and
WHEREAS, the members of the Illinois Food Bank Association distribute more than 80 million pounds of food each year through its network of food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community organizations; and
WHEREAS, Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest) has declared September 2008 to be Hunger Action Month; and
WHEREAS, more than 200 Feeding America food banks, including the eight members of the Illinois Food Bank Association – Central Illinois Food Bank, Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Peoria Area Food Bank, River Bend Foodbank, St. Louis Area Foodbank and the Tri-State Foodbank - will host numerous events throughout the month to empower community members to get involved in efforts to end hunger in their local community:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim September 2008 as HUNGER ACTION MONTH in Illinois and encourage all the state’s citizens to do what they can to help end hunger in Illinois.