Help 4-H’ers feed the hungry at Illinois State Fair

Help 4-H’ers feed the hungry at Illinois State Fair


Visitors to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Aug. 9-18, can help 4-H’ers feed the hungry by donating to the 4-H CAN Make A Difference food drive.

Illinois 4-H youth ask fairgoers to bring cans, boxes or bags of non-perishable food items when they come to the fair. During the fair, the 4-H members will construct a unique house of food made entirely of these food products. The House of Food is located near the main entrance of the fairgrounds and next to the Ethnic Village.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 4-H organization and sixth year for the 4-H food drive. Last year, Illinois 4-H youth collected more than 166,000 pounds of food and contributed more than 213,000 hours of volunteer service at food pantries, shelters and meal programs throughout Illinois. The 4-H members are confident that they will shatter last year’s record, according to Dr. Janice Seitz, assistant dean and director of the Illinois 4-H Youth Development Program.

“Traditionally, food drives take place during the winter time, so by summer, the shelves are vacant at food pantries and shelters,” said Seitz. “In an agricultural state such as Illinois, it is sad that people still go hungry. It is evident that Illinois food banks are in desperate need of our help.”

Statistics from the Illinois Hunger Coalition show that more than 1.5 million Illinois citizens go hungry each year, and children make up half of this number. Unfortunately, these numbers are continuing to increase.

Following the success of last year’s food drive, Illinois Food Banks Association and Second Harvest Network presented 4-H CAN Make A Difference the Statewide Food Drive of the Year Award for outstanding leadership and contributions to citizens in need. The program has been featured in USA Weekend and listed in USDA’s report as one of the top youth development programs in the nation. But, more importantly, thousands of families throughout Illinois have been helped by this important humanitarian effort.

“4-H is proud to lead such an important effort to make a difference in the lives of needy citizens,” Seitz concluded. “4-H encourages everyone to join in the fight to eliminate hunger in this state and to become involved in local food drive efforts.”

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