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Empty harvest: Migrant family faces hardships in Rantoul

RANTOUL— On a Saturday morning in October, trash overflowed from Dumpsters at the old Air Force hospital in Rantoul, where about 300 migrant farm workers and their families lived this summer and fall. Suitcases sat stacked on a picnic table; men walked around one another’s vehicles, looking under the hoods. Inside, the Ortiz family planned their 1,300-mile journey home to South Texas.

Brothers Ernesto and Isidro Ortiz, their wives — who are sisters — and their five children arrived in Rantoul in early July to detassel corn for Monsanto Company. When the hot fieldwork of summer was done, they stayed on to sort corn at Monsanto’s Farmer City plant.

By Shelley Smithson -- Alejandra Ortiz and her family traveled to Rantoul from Texas to work for Monsanto.

Free or reduced lunch aid soars in public schools

RANTOUL-- At Broadmeadow Intermediate Grade Level Center in Rantoul, third graders quietly file through the cafeteria line and pick up a hot lunch of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and fruited gelatin. Eight out of every 10 children waiting in the lunchroom line this year are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Shelley Smithson/ Mo Knell serves hot lunches to students at Broadmeadow school in Rantoul.

Urbana Rotary Club pledges money to help feed school children

A program that sends backpacks full of food home with needy schoolchildren every weekend will expand to a fifth Champaign County site this fall.

 The Urbana Rotary Club has pledged $22,500 over the next three years to support the Eastern Illinois Foodbank´s BackPack Program at Prairie Elementary School in Urbana.

 The program combats hunger by providing weekend groceries for children, distributed in backpacks on Friday afternoons to ensure students return to school on Mondays fed and ready to learn.

The News-Gazette/ From front, Deshunta Aikens, Ben Thompson and David Hensley restock shelves at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

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