Elected officials slated to tour Food Bank

From press release

State and local elected officials will visit Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) in Rockford from 9-11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 16. The event will include a meaningful dialogue about hunger and the increasing demand for food assistance by local residents. Public officials and representatives of NFIB will discuss how public funds and programs help NIFB’s charitable food network feed hungry people. NIFB is at 320 S. Avon St.

Rising unemployment is causing more people to seek food assistance. There are 221,175 unemployed workers who live within NIFB’s geographic service area, which has an unemployment rate of 10.4 percent. All but three of the NIFB’s 13 counties have exceeded the national unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, with three counties in the top 10 for highest in the state of Illinois. Winnebago County has the highest unemployment rate in Illinois (15.9 percent) and Boone County is close behind with the fourth highest rate in the state (14.3 percent).

According to a report released by the USDA Nov. 16, 49.1 million Americans are food insecure, including nearly 17 million children. NIFB is delivering vital nutrition to people in need, many who have never before needed assistance. The Food Bank will serve more than 1 million meals to children this year.

H. Dennis Smith, president and CEO of NIFB, said: “Never before has NIFB endeavored to have this many political leaders gather for a roundtable discussion on the best way to combat local hunger. We look forward to discussing public funding and how NIFB uses it along with private donations to better serve our communities. With a 35 percent surge in demand at our food assistance sites, we know that it will take a bi-partisan effort to have a positive impact on people who so desperately need our help now.”

NIFB is a non-profit organization that provides food to all those in need through its 520 partner agencies in the following 13 counties—Boone, DuPage, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will and Winnebago. NIFB acquires, gathers, handles and distributes donated, government and purchased food to more than 50,000 different people each week through local food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth activity centers and other food assistance sites. In Fiscal Year 2009, NIFB distributed more than 27 million pounds of food. The Food Bank has recently launched a Capital Campaign to build a new Food Distribution and Community Nutrition Center to enable them to handle more food more efficiently to meet the increasing demand.

From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue

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