Sunday, February 1, 2009

Help Fight Hunger Right Here at Home

Economic times are tough. Most of the food blogs I frequent have mentioned cutting their food bill in some way, it is a real concern, but what if you really didn't have enough food to eat? Sometimes in the land of plenty called the US, it is hard for us to imagine someone going to bed hungry, but it happens all the time in our own cold backyard.

FACTS: Hunger In Eastern Illinois

Of the households served by the local Foodbank:
40% are children under 18 years old.
12% are children ages 5 years and less.
Up to 9% are elderly.
Over 1/3 of the households include at least 1 employed adult. Over 2/3
have incomes below the federal poverty level during the previous month.
Approximately 60% of clients are white; 34% are African American; 4% are Hispanic; 2% are from other racial or ethnic groups. 2% are homeless. 50% of the Foodbank's clients must choose between paying for food or for utilities or heating fuel.
Nearly 40% have to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage.

Nearly 1/3 have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
For every $10 donated to WEFT 90.1FM, our station will donate $1 to the Foodbank. For every $1 the Foodbank receives, they will provide $10 worth of food to families in need in our community. Your donation has 2x the IMPACT!

Contribute online at Or send a donation to: WEFT, PO Box 1223, Champaign, IL. 61824


Jumbleberry Jam said...

WEFT is so cool! Thanks for this post. The stats are hard to read, but I'm grateful for all the good work you and others are doing there!

fisherfamilycooks said...

I think it's great that people are pulling together to help others who are struggling, but my concern for people as times get harder is: what happens to those with food restrictions related to their immediate health such as those with severe food allergies or celiac disease? Food banks usually don't allow those they serve to pick what foods are safe for them. They get a prepacked box, much of which might be useless to them or even dangerous to have around such as when a person with severe peanut allergies gets a jar of peanut butter. Most government programs are of little or no help to these people either. These people either find a way to buy food or go without. The choices aren't always easy. I would like to see a food program someday that allows all people to get food they can eat rather than just dangle a carrot in front of some people's noses. The thing that makes it extra bad for these people is that they often have to pass up other opportunities for free food as well because they aren't safe or can't be sure that they are. This includes meals at other people's houses, family gatherings, and school programs and birthday parties as well as food banks, WIC and other charity type programs. These people are forgotten and sometimes need help too and I'd love to see an inclusive food distribution program someday that could help all people. Otherwise, I worry what will become of some of these people as more and more people end up out of work or otherwise unable to make ends meet despite frugal living.

VeganLinda said...

Fisherfamilycooks, Do you have a blog now? I'd love to hear about your gluten-free, allergen-free kitchen experiences. Anyway, you make some great points so I asked a friend of mine who works for the Foodbank to respond. It might take a couple days, but hopefully we'll hear back.

Jessica said...

Thanks for helping get the word out about this great partnership. As a member of the Foodbank staff, I am always thrilled to work together with others excited to make a difference.

Fisherfamilycooks -
Thanks for your concern about those with dietary restrictions. It's definitely something we think about too. This will be long, but I hope it helps!

We distribute food to 260 agencies and programs that provide food to families in our community. Although some provide pre-packed boxes, many are beginning to offer 'choice' pantries that give clients the chance to shop and choose the items they prefer. We strongly encourage new programs to use a choice model and the majority of new programs now do. Even if a pantry distributes pre-packed boxes, their biggest concern is helping their clients. If someone visiting an emergency food program has dietary restrictions, I'd encourage them to speak with a volunteer or staff member to see what they can do.

However, the Foodbank relies heavily on large-scale food donations to stock our shelves. Our stock, and therefore our member agencies', is limited to what is available through donations from manufacturers, distributors and other sources. It is very difficult for the Foodbank and our members to acquire diverse types of nutritious foods. In many cases, peanut butter may be the only type of protein that a pantry has available simply because it is the only protein that they can get affordably in the quantity they need. Fruits and veggies, proteins and other nutritionally dense foods are often those that are donated the least.

This is part of the reason WEFT's partnership is so important. With the donations provided by WEFT supporters we are able to acquire a variety of foods that are more difficult to get through traditional avenues, including foods that are better options for those with dietary restrictions.

Ultimately, we too hope that our emergency food system can grow to become more accessible, offer more locally-produced food and better meet the needs of everyone in our community.

Jessica Paulsen
Eastern Illinois Foodbank