You have probably bumped into someone who has it, and you have, most likely, driven past countless people with it on a daily basis. Believe it or not, you probably know someone that is suffering from it, they can do little about it and they’re too embarrassed to tell you. And if you have school-aged children, six of their classmates in an average class of thirty students definitely have it right now.
What is this great affliction? It is hunger.
What’s it like to have absolutely nothing to eat? Really think about it. Think about the stress on a hungry family.
“The need is there all year long,” Mike Haile, vice-president of News-Gazette Media and general manager of News-Gazette Media radios stations WDWS/WHMS/WKIO.
Haile and others from News-Gazette Media were onsite at Hickory Point Bank-Champaign earlier this fall season for the bank’s fundraiser for Eastern Illinois Foodbank. The Champaign branch had a tent set-up for people to have a $5 hot dog lunch, provided by Piato Café’s food truck, which was supplemented by potato chips from County Market and hot dog buns from Bimbo Bakeries.
WDWS was at the fundraiser broadcasting and talking with community leaders and organizers from Hickory Point Bank and staff members from the EIF.
Hickory Point Bank employees did a lot of prep work for the fundraiser. They constructed a food can sculpture from donated canned goods, held a ping pong marathon for those who wanted to donate and play, and served up free ice cream in the afternoon. More importantly they matched up to $2,000 in total donations for the day!
The need is still great, however. EIF has been serving the area for almost 35 years and serves a 17-county area of over 14,000 square miles. Champaign County’s poverty rate is at around 20.1 percent, which is significantly higher than the poverty rate of Chicago’s Cook County, which is at 16.2 percent.
One in every five kids is a hungry kid in Champaign County. Indeed, it seems ironic that hunger exists when the richest farmland in the world is just a few miles away from every point in the county.
EIF keeps working hard to answer the call of hungry people, and they have adjusted their mission as the needs of the area changes. The actual concept of foodbanking has evolved since their inception. It used to be about “food rescue”- keeping food from going to waste. It’s still a critical part of their mission, but mainly the focus is now on feeding hungry people and the fight against hunger.
EIF serves agencies that feed hungry people. They do not provide food directly to people. Last year, EIF provided 8.6 million pounds of food to over 220 agencies and programs feeding about 116,000 people. Let’s put that into perspective: there are around 120,000 people in Champaign and Urbana combined. Imagine that roughly the entire community of CU being hungry with nothing to eat. That is how many people are chronically hungry in the EIF’s service area.
Corporate partners ensure that EIF can remain successful. Hickory Point Bank is a good example of this kind of support that is so needed by EIF.
“Hickory Point Bank has a good track record for sponsoring community events, and hosting a food drive is an opportunity to reinforce that commitment. The event allows Bank colleagues and customers a unique way to contribute and be involved in the fight against hunger in our community. Positive efforts such as supporting the Eastern Illinois Food Bank creates a ripple of changes across the community, and we are proud to be a part of that,” Karl Miller, Director of Marketing and Communications Hickory Point Bank Champaign said.
Yet, EIF needs more businesses to step-up and give back.
The best way to serve those in Champaign County who are hungry is to give a monetary donation. According to EIF, every dollar donated to the foodbank provides someone in need with $10 worth of donated food, so financial donations are very important.
“The work that their staff and volunteers do at Eastern Illinois Foodbank is truly amazing,” Haile said.
Go to eifoodbankorg.presencehost.net to see how you can help.