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Extras: Feeding a Need

At the end of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s 2008 fiscal year, it was serving approximately 33,000 people. By the end of 2009, it was up to 43,000.

The food bank distributes food to 14 counties, including Champaign County. As more people have been using the services available, the places that provide those services need more resources to keep up.

Susan Kantor

Donations to churches drop, need for help increases

URBANA – Ben Hoerr, executive pastor of The Vineyard Church in Urbana, shuffles through a stack of applications from church members seeking financial help.

“I need help with rent,” one congregant writes. “I’m short $300. Husband lost his unemployment, and his new job has been rained out.”

Shelley Smithson/Pastor Ben Hoerr reads through applications for financial assistance from members of The Vineyard Church in Urbana in January.

Federal food programs see local increase in need

CHAMPAIGN -- With more than 1.5 million people enrolled in the federal food benefit program, Illinois is among the top six states in the nation receiving the most federal help feeding its residents - following Texas, California, New York, Florida and Michigan.

This past February marked a record high for the federal food stamp program since its inception during the Great Depression as more than 32 million families claimed benefits. Now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, low-income families buy food at participating retailers using an electronic card, much like a debit card.

The News-Gazette/ Shytiesha Hedrick,12, of Champaign gets potatoes from Lincoln´s Challenge Academy Cadet Christian Gallardo during the food giveaway at the Boys & Girls Club in Champaign recently.

Illinois food banks swamped by people in need

CHAMPAIGN -- One Illinois economic sector reports record-breaking business this year, but it's not good news.

The state's system of food banks – which supply more than 2,000 food pantries across Illinois – has seen its clientele grow steadily with the recession, and August was the busiest month on record.

"Every month, we continue to see record-breaking numbers, not just here in Chicago but across the state," said Kate Maehr, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository and president of Feeding Illinois, the state association of food banks.

The Eastern Illinois Foodbank in Urbana is no exception.

The News-Gazette/ Food items are seen stacked neatly in a warehouse at Salt and Light Ministries. August was the busiest month on record for food pantries across Illinois.

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