Illinois 4-H youth are kicking off their annual 4-H CAN Make a Difference Food Drive this summer. For the past eight years, 4-H members have volunteered their time and collected food donations to make this campaign a success. Since the program began, 4-Hers have donated nearly 2 million hours of community service to their local food banks, pantries and shelters statewide and collected more than 1.3 million pounds of food donations. The collected food supplies are distributed to food banks around the state based on need.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture is one of 16 state agencies to partner with 4-H youth as they prepare for their annual 4-H CAN Make a Difference Food Drive. 4-H is also receiving support from businesses such as Cub Foods, Schnucks, Jewel-Osco, Ks Merchandise and US Bank. Well-known agricultural organizations such as the Illinois Pork Producers and the Illinois Beef Association will also be providing support in various ways for the food drive. A campaign this large requires the assistance of many people and resources to be successful.
Food banks and pantries suffer their greatest shortage during summer months. In fact, by mid-June, the food that has been donated throughout the holiday season is nearly depleted. Another contributing factor is children who receive government-subsidized meals throughout the school year are at home for the summer. The higher demand for food caused by these issues places a major strain on not only the families, but on the local food pantries as well.
The 4-H CAN Make a Difference Food Drive serves as a good opportunity for youth to get involved in their communities and raise awareness among citizens concerning the fight against hunger. In fact, Americas Second Harvest and the Illinois Food Bank Association presented 4-H CAN Make a Difference with the Statewide Food Drive of the Year Award for their outstanding leadership and service to citizens in need. Furthermore, evaluation results indicate that 87 percent of the youth who participated in 4-H CAN Make a Difference rated their involvement as their most meaningful 4-H activity.
4-H youth are once again proud to announce that First Lady Patricia Blagojevich will serve as this years honorary chairman of the 4-H CAN Make a Difference Food Drive campaign.
The 4-H CAN Make a Difference House of Food exhibit will be displayed at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield from Aug. 12-21. Bagged, boxed or canned non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the fair. All citizens who participate will be given discount coupons for some of their favorite state fair foods.
For more information about 4-H, contact the nearest University of Illinois Extension Office or the 4-H Web site at www.4-H.uiuc.edu.
From the July 20-26, 2005, issue