Emergency food programs show increase in need

By on January 30, 2009

Hunger is an everyday issue in our communities, and a troubled economy has only intensified this problem.

In Kane County alone, the unemployment rate increased by 1.6 percent over the last year to 6.4 percent, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

People needing the assistance of emergency feeding programs in Kane County are also up 29 percent since last year. Sites report that many of these people are seeking food assistance for the first time in their lives and that many are middle-class families.

“There is a direct correlation between the growth of unemployment and the need for food assistance,” said H. Dennis Smith, Executive Director & CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Northern Illinois Food Bank anticipates that these numbers will only rise, especially as food prices trend higher. With retailers passing higher production costs to consumers, USDA’s Economic Research projected 2008 food prices increased from 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent. Families already struggling with stretched budgets can expect little reprieve in the new year, as this study projects an additional 4 to 5 percent increase in food costs in 2009. Historically, the increase in cost of food is between 2 and 3 percent annually.

Northern Illinois Food Bank and its partner food assistance sites often present the only safety net for hungry people, but even these organizations are finding it difficult to meet this increasing demand. Rising food prices affect the Food Bank’s ability to secure more food as well. Only with additional help from the community as a whole can more be done for hungry people.

Call Northern Illinois Food Bank at (630) 443-6910 today to learn how you can help.