NORMAL (HOI) – Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton toured the Midwest Food Bank in Normal Tuesday and presented a plan to decrease food insecurity.
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Eric Hodel said with a 20 to 30% increase in requests for food at the food bank, volunteers are seeing unfamiliar faces and people with their hands out for the first time.
"They’re making trade offs financially," Hodel said. "They were trying to pay rent, trying to pay for the utilities. As they have different options and different trade offs on where they can spend their limited funds, if we can provide food to them, that helps ease their burden."
Hodel credits volunteers and donations for the food bank’s ability to help those in need in the past year.
And Stratton said food insecurity is on the rise in the state.
"During this pandemic, food insecurity has doubled in Illinois," Stratton said. "Food insecurity has tripled for Illinois households with children. Our state has seen a 60% increase in food insecurity for seniors."
She said people of color and in rural communities are feeling that hunger the most.
"Food insecurity is emblematic of so much more than just hunger," Stratton said. "Ending food insecurity is also about justice, equity and access to opportunity. It’s about healthier communities."
Stratton points to a state program "From Food Insecurity to Food Equity: A Roadmap to End Hunger" in the works to offer easier paths to free discounted nutrition programs, fresh affordable produce, and more partnerships.
Stratton also said in the works is a two-year initiative to enhance equity in agriculture where local and state agencies will collaborate to support entrepreneurs and growers of color.
"When we address food insecurity, we not only lift up families, but entire communities. And healthy communities make up a healthier state."
Stratton encourages communities across the state to continue volunteering at their local food banks as a way to join in the fight to end food insecurity.
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July 6, 2021 at 06:29PM