It’s a cold evening in January. You’re bundled in layers of sweatshirts and blankets to fend off the icy chill buffeting your door. The empty feeling in your stomach is growing – a hearty bowl of hot soup sounds perfect just about now. So what do you do? You get up, walk to the pantry, set a pot of soup on the stove, and turn up the thermostat, of course!
Now imagine a different scenario: it’s the end of the month and between utilities, rent, and that unexpected doctor’s visit a couple weeks ago, there’s not much left of your paycheck. So do you turn up the heat to fend of the cold, or do you eat dinner today?
With stocked pantries and full stomachs, it’s easy to forget that there are families in our community who don’t have the resources to both turn up the heat and prepare a healthy meal. In fact, 77% of households in Northern Illinois often have to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities – including heat, water, and electricity. A majority of these households are also faced with choosing between paying for food and paying for other necessities including transportation, medicine, and housing.
Our hungry neighbors are facing incredibly tough choices, and they become even more difficult during these harsh winter months. But with your support, we can help take some of the burden of those hard decisions off a hungry neighbor’s plate. Here are three things you can do today to help:
Our volunteers inspect, sort, and package much of the donated food Northern Illinois Food Bank distributes. We simply could not provide our hungry neighbors facing tough choices with the nutritious food they need without the help of our volunteers. Whether you volunteer once a week, once a month, or once a year, your helping hands aid us in ensuring households across Northern Illinois will have access to food when they need it most. Learn more about available volunteer opportunities here.
When money is tight, you try to stretch every dollar. More than 80% of the food we distribute is donated from food manufacturers and retailers, and we are fortunate to have a volunteer corps that donates their time, equivalent to about 60 full-time employees per year. It’s through these generous donations and our efficiency that enables us to leverage donations and turn a $1 donation into $8 worth of food for hungry neighbors! No matter the amount, every donation makes a real difference in the lives of our hungry neighbors because 97% of our resources goes back into our feeding programs.
Northern Illinois Food Bank recently received its 13th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator – a distinction earned by less than one percent of all 1.5 million US charities evaluated! So when you choose to invest in the Food Bank, you can be confident your gifts will be used wisely to serve our neighbors in need.
Hunger is a reality year-round, and our communities continue to need your support after the holidays. Donate here to take a tough choice off your neighbor’s plate.
The next time your coworker brings up this winter weather, point out the hard decisions your hungry neighbors have to make every day! Did you know 1 in 7 people in Northern Illinois rely on the Food Bank and its network of community feeding programs? Being informed about hunger in your community and sharing this information with friends, family, and coworkers will make a real difference as we strive to solve hunger in Northern Illinois. Learn more about Hunger in America here and here.
No matter how you choose to make a difference this year, our neighbors need your support after the holidays and year-round.