WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Central Illinois Foodbank

Jul 20, 2012

Rich Egger's guest is Kaleigh Friend, Public Relations Manager for the Central Illinois Foodbank. The organization services 21 counties, including Schuyler, Cass, Morgan, Brown, Adams, and Pike.

Friend said the foodbank provides 8.5 million lbs of food to communities per year. Some of that is delivered through mobile foodbanks.

She said the Central Illinois Foodbank is seeing a new demographic of people requiring assistance.

“A lot of what we're seeing is people who fall within the working poor category,” said Friend. She said she spoke at a mobile foodbank to a man whose wife had lost her job, forcing them to seek help providing food for their family, which includes three children.

Friend said one in four children in the Central Illinois Foodbank service region are food insecure.

“Food insecurity means that a family doesn't have steady access to a food supply,” Friend said, adding the data came from a 2010 study by Feeding America and other groups.

“As the economy has kind of stayed in the state that it's in, we imagine that it (the food insecurity statistic) has stayed the same or only gotten worse.”

The latest statistics from 2010 show the foodbank helped 105,000 families through the agencies with which it works.

Friend said it is challenging to serve a largely rural population spread out through a large geographic region. Communicating with those people can be especially challenging.

“A lot of the towns we work with are very, very small. They might have one weekly newspaper so it's hard to ge the word out if we're having a mobile pantry or things like that,” Friend said.

She said the foodbank is trying to meet more with community groups, farmers, and others to explain what the organization does.

She said there is still a stigma attached to idea of receiving foodbank assistance, which also makes the job more challenging because everybody in a small town knows which families are seeking the help.