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IMPORTANT COVID-19 FOOD BANK UPDATE

 

During the outbreak, Feeding Illinois Food Bank members are continuing to provide core services while taking all precautions to protect their workers and minimize the spread of COVID-19. The requisite services of the food banks are acquiring, storing, and distributing food to roughly 2,400 member agencies in all 102 counties of Illinois. Essential back-office functions, such as agency relations, community outreach, financial management, and donation handling must also continue to operate at some level. All of which become more challenging as more staff work remotely and volunteers hesitate to continue any potential personal-contact activities at both the food banks and agencies.

The respective needs of the individual food banks are fluid and their responses are adapting to local situations. What follows is a brief synopsis of their most pressing situations and needs. The most critical needs are:

  • Food - to supplant declining donations from usual sources and channels.

  • Funds - to purchase additional foods and support expanded services.

  • Volunteers - to help sort, pack, and distribute food at both food banks and agencies. 

  • Boxes, Bags & To-Go Containers - to pre-pack food for alternative (i.e., social-distancing) distributions.

  • All the food banks have expanded or incorporated some type of mobile, drive-through, or knock-and-drop distributions to facilitate social distancing, agency closings, and volunteer drop-offs.

  • Demand for food and program assistance is expanding daily, with inquiries for food and where to find assistance escalating.

  • SNAP Outreach teams report being inundated with referrals and inquiries; receiving more referrals in a day than they usually would in a month.

  • The most-drastic negative impact has been volunteers staying home that has essentially forced some agencies to close or take that precaution to protect their mostly-senior workforce.

  • This is also impeding the food banks' ability to sort, process, and pack foods and boxes.

       

If the situation continues, growing concerns are:

  • Food supply, and the increasing likelihood, if not already the need, to tap into financial reserves to expand food purchasing.

  • Some agencies are also becoming concerned about the food supply and have started reaching out to out-of-network organizations for possible assistance.

  • Increased special deliveries, such as those mentioned above, require more resources, time and increased costs - straining food banks' budgets even further.

  • Maintaining some critical services, such as SNAP Outreach assistance, with staff working remotely, and some residents not having access to internet or phone service, etc.

  • Security (i.e., personal safety and crowd control), particularly if food banks need to start doing more mass distributions in impacted communities.

  • People have started coming up to delivery trucks asking for food directly from drivers and crowds have become somewhat aggressive in a few situations.

  • Projecting long term, if the situation worsens to the point of not wanting agencies to visit food banks nor guests to visit food pantries, then food bank will have to devise a distribution network that does not widely exist today.

  • None of the Illinois are adequately, or readily staffed for expanded, long-term home deliveries.

COVID-19 Information

 

Welcome to Feeding Illinois

Vision: A hunger-free Illinois.

Mission: To coordinate and support the efforts of its member food banks and their partners serving Illinois in their collective and collaborative efforts to provide access to a healthy and adequate food supply for those in need.

Purpose: Feeding Illinois is the association of eight Feeding America food banks that serve Illinois. Together, we provide food and other services to every county in Illinois through a vast network of member agencies and specialized feeding programs. One out of nine Illinois residents, including 1 in 6 children, struggle with hunger - which is staggering and unnecessary; and Feeding Illinois members play a critical role in responding to this need.

As the state association for food banks serving Illinois, we help unify strategies and pool resources to strengthen and support the food banks’ local efforts to eliminate hunger in Illinois. Through vast coordination and with relentless commitment, each food bank has identified the specific needs of their communities and has developed a comprehensive array of programs and services to combat food insecurity - both short-term and long-term. As 11% of Illinois residents awake every day uncertain of where or unable to access their next meal, Feeding Illinois members are working vigorously with a statewide network of more than 2,400 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other agencies to distribute or serve over 190 million meals annually to those 1.4 million hungry neighbors across our state.