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Champaign County restaurants fail inspections but public never told

By Dan Petrella and Jennifer Wheeler/CU-CitizenAccess

Geovanti’s Bar & Grill on Green Street failed its restaurant inspections five times from September 2008 through February of this year.

But no one who eats there would ever know, unless they took the initiative to request copies of the popular Campustown restaurant’s inspection reports from the local health department.

That’s because, unlike many other counties and cities in central Illinois and across the country, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District currently does not publicize in any form the results of about 1,300 inspections it conducts each year at restaurants, cafeterias and other food-service facilities.

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Food hard to come by for some local residents

By Hannah Meisel/For CU-CitizenAccess/ For the past month, the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen at 124 W. White Street in Champaign and other local food pantries have been Katara Raab’s only means of feeding herself and her two-year-old son.

Raab was homeless, bouncing around from place to place every few nights. To make matters worse, she had not received her monthly Link card because the paperwork never came in the mail.  (The Link card makes it possible for her to buy food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.) Raab may not receive her next Link card for another month.

She recently found housing in Champaign, but she still relies on soup kitchens and food pantries to meet her food needs.

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/Food items sit on a table at Martha's Cupboard Food Pantry in Mansfield.

Food insecurity grows in East Central Illinois

By Pam G. Dempsey ,, and Jim Meadows, Illinois Public Media/ Kenneth Nelsen made his way around the Blue Ridge Township Town Hall in Mansfield, picking up canned food and produce as part of the monthly food pantry sponsored there by Mansfield United Methodist Church.

His visit in May to the Martha’s Cupboard Food Pantry was his fifth time and as of now, his only consistent source of food.

Pam G. Dempsey/ box of food from Martha's Cupboard Food Pantry sits on porch at an apartment complex across the street from the Blue Ridge Township Town Hall in Mansfield on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Apartment residents visit the monthly food pantry for supplies, which serves about 40 families. The town of Mansfield lacks a large grocery store. Nearly 2 million people statewide are do not have the money or resources to regularly get the food they need, according to a recent national study.

USDA launches new 'food desert' finder

CU-CitizenAccess/There are two places in Champaign County that are considered food deserts according to a new map launched today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The two spots – one located in north Urbana and the second near Rantoul – have nearly 2,000 people with low access to healthy foods.

The Internet-based mapping tool pinpoints the location of "food deserts" around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.

Courtesy photo/U.S. Department of Agriculture

New study shows county-level food gaps

More than 30,000 Champaign County residents are food insecure, according to a report released Thursday from Feeding America.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest food charity and comprises a network of more than 200 foodbanks. The “Map the Meal Gap” project analyzed federal income data and food costs among counties nationwide to better determine who may be food insecure.

Courtesy photo/Rantoul-area residents pick up food in December at First United Methodist Church of Rantoul as part of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank Foodmobile. The food bank brought more than 8,000 pounds of food - enough to feed 150 families.

Food mobile helps fill holiday hunger gap

By Landon Cassman/CU-CitizenAccess — Dozens of shivering men and women lined up Saturday at 6 a.m. outside First United Methodist Church, waiting in the season’s first snow for the doors to open so they could get food from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank Foodmobile.

The food pantry wasn’t scheduled to open until 10, but volunteers from the Foodbank and United Way decided that they’d get an early start distributing more than 8,000 pounds of food, enough to feed 150 families.

Eric Westerlund, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison for the United Way, said the East Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council paid the $2,000 fee to bring the Foodmobile to Rantoul.

Courtesy photo/Rantoul-area residents pick up food recently at First United Methodist Church of Rantoul as part of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank Foodmobile. The food bank brought more than 8,000 pounds of food - enough to feed 150 families.

Record crowd for Thanksgiving distribution at Salt & Light

By The News-Gazette - More than 800 people turned out Wednesday in hopes of getting one of 500 turkeys, along with the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner, being given away by the Salt & Light ministry in Champaign.

Robin Scholz/The News Gazette/People wait for their number to be called at the Salt & Light turkey giveaway in Champaign on Wednesday. Five hundred turkeys were given away, along with the extras needed for a Thanksgiving dinner.

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