Sour Economy Impacting Food Banks

Macomb, IL – Food banks are dealing with a higher demand as the economy remains sour.

Pantries across Illinois report they're seeing more families. It's no different in Macomb, says Bob Bowen of Loaves & Fishes, Etc.

"I think last month we had the biggest month ever. We had 370 families," says Bowen.

Bowen says since April 2008, Loaves & Fishes, Etc has helped an average of 310 families per month. He expects the demand to remain high in the coming months for a couple reasons.

One is the economy. In addition, children who normally eat a meal or two per day at school will have most of their meals at home during the summer, which places a strain on family budgets.

Bowen says the pantry provides about $7,000 worth of non-perishable foods to families every month. Those foods include cereal and canned soups and vegetables.

In addition, it budgets to provide $4,000 worth of food vouchers to help families purchase perishable items at grocery stores. But Bowen says in June, the group issued about $7,400 worth of vouchers.

Bowen says in addition to food, Loaves & Fishes, Etc also helps some people pay rent, utilities, and other needs. Hence the "Etc" in the group's name.

He says families are allowed to come in for assistance once a month.

Ten churches help with Loaves & Fishes, Etc. The volunteer organization is headquartered at the First Presbyterian Church, 400 East Carroll Street, Macomb. The phone number is 836-FOOD (836-3663).

Loaves & Fishes, Etc is open Monday through Thursday, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and on Friday 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Loaves & Fishes, Etc celebrated its 15th anniversary last year. Bowen says the group is now working to develop plans for the next 15 years.