Hunger In Both Iowa And Illinois Impacts Pantries - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Hunger In Both Iowa And Illinois Impacts Pantries

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More people reported being hungry last year in both Iowa and Illinois.

That comes from a U.S. Ag department study, showing 14 percent of homes in the U.S. were hungry last year. Iowa's average increased to 12.6 percent of households, up from 11.5 percent four years ago. Illinois' average stands at 13 percent, up from 12.2 percent four years ago.

Food pantries and meal sites blame the increase on a lack of jobs for a certain part of the population.

Volunteers at the Kewanee food pantry stuff boxes of food to help feed nearly 5,500 clients each month. Filling a box with bread, meat, canned fruit, enough for five meals.

"We're only supplementing, we can't provide them a month worth of food, or we'd be open once a month," says Pantry Director Lisa Janey.
She says the numbers on her list keep growing.

"Every year it has gone up, there isn't a year where it hasn't gone up," says Janey.

She blames the economy. Kewanee is still stinging from the news of another plant closure. Janey believes families struggle to achieve what used to be normal.

"I believe firmly that if a person puts in a 40 hour work week, they should be able to support their family if they're out there doing their job and it doesn't seem to be the case anymore," says Janey.

It's not just the food pantries that continue to see a need for their services, meal sites also report a steady increase in people looking for something to eat.

"I'm not surprised at that at all," says Sister Ludmilla Benda.

She has been helping feed the hungry once a week for eight years. She's seen an increase in her clients too. Partially from word of mouth, but also, another problem with jobs.

"I know several people tell me, they just can't get a job, and they had been working, and now they're without a job, and so the employment I know it's bad," says Benda.

Her clients are up from 50 eight years ago, and Benda has difficulty counting the new ones.

"I tried last Sunday and I think it was about 150," says Benda.

Neither Benda nor Janey believe the numbers of hungry people will start falling anytime soon. 

The government report also compared households reporting being hungry, with participation rates in government food programs like food stamps.

About half of those participating still said they were hungry at times last year even if they were receiving food stamps.


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