How you can help feed your hungry neighbors
According to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, some 344,000 people who live in its suburban coverage area face hunger.
That's one in 12 of us.
It's difficult to imagine that in our corner of the world -- the most affluent part of the state -- so many people are living on the edge.
At the height of the pandemic, with many people unable to work, the Northern Illinois Food Bank staged mass food giveaways at community colleges and even Great America.
One monthly event, held at College of Lake County, served as many as 2,000 families.
While that number has dropped to between 300 and 600, organizers are now seeing a seasonal rise in numbers.
"It takes your breath away when you see folks in need," food bank President and CEO Julie Yurko told our Barbara Vitello for a story on Sunday. "It hurts your heart."
While the need is lower than it has been during the pandemic, it is expected to rise 20% from pre-pandemic levels because of higher food prices, sunsetting government benefits and the holidays.
Yurko expects the large-scale giveaways will continue.
Vitello also spoke to Waukegan retiree John Sorg, who volunteers to pick up food donations to deliver to five families in Zion and Waukegan.
Sorg knows a thing or two about hunger. As a child, he said, he went without dinner some days.
"I can't stand to see anybody hungry," he said. "Not in this country."
The loss of a job, major illness, divorce or other life-altering event often contributes to food insecurity. Without having to worry about where one's next meal will come from enables people to spend more on rent, medicines and other essentials.
Food can be the difference between having an apartment and being on the streets.
If you'd like to help, there are many ways you can: Volunteer at a food bank, deliver food to those in need, work large events, buy extra when you go grocery shopping or donate money.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank has large donors, both of food and money, but many smaller-scale operations subsist on the goodwill of people in the community.
You can donate to your program of choice or to the Neighbors in Need fund, a fundraising cooperative of the Daily Herald and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in which 100 percent of your donation goes directly to people in need.
The foundation will match 50% on the dollar, to boot. The fund's focus will be on funding programs that address homelessness, hunger and health care access in the suburbs.
Visit dailyherald.com/neighbors to make your tax-deductible donation.