Additional $5 million for Food for Families in FY09

Blagojevich administration officials and the River Bend Foodbank today announced more than 58,000 pounds of food are being delivered to north western Illinois food pantries through the Food for Families program. The food began arriving at the River Bend Foodbank last month and trucks are already on their way to food pantries in 12 counties in north western Illinois.

"With a slowing economy and the rising costs of groceries, the State of Illinois stepped up to help the state's food banks so that pantries statewide can provide food and assistance to families in need," said Gov. Blagojevich. "That's why I proposed additional funding to help food banks across Illinois meet the needs of thousands of struggling families throughout the year."

Last December, responding to the needs of thousands of families struggling to put food on the table, Gov. Blagojevich announced the Food for Families program, a $1 million hunger relief initiative. Through this initiative state funds were used to help food banks purchase food and help make up for limited federal support, for the first time in Illinois history. Starting in March, nearly 1.5 millions pounds of food were to be delivered to the Illinois Food Bank Association (IFBA) to feed 37,500 families in need. The new program will provide enough food for 3,090 meals per day for Illinois families in need.

The recent deliveries of food include macaroni and cheese, beef ravioli, chicken noodle soup and green beans, providing families with a good source of protein and nutrition.

With food prices rising and limited federal support for food banks, the Governor proposed $5 million in funding for the Food for Families program for FY09. This additional money will allow food banks in Illinois to buy 7 million pounds of food, and help 175,000 households get the food they need. The additional funding will also include $300,000 in grants to food pantries to help them purchase equipment to stock fresh fruits and vegetables. The General Assembly must act on this proposal in order to help families.

Nearly 500,000 children in Illinois are hungry. Children make up about 35 percent of those that receive food from food banks. Also, almost 40 percent of households served by Illinois food banks are households with one or more working adults.

"The Governor's establishment of the Food for Families Program is so important and timely due to the current state of the economy," said Amina Everett, manager of the DHS Emergency Food Program. "DHS is happy to work with the Governor to provide support to the Illinois food banks so that they can increase their food purchasing in order to continue to provide the quality, nutritious food that low-income families need."

Food banks in Illinois currently receive food donations through local food companies, food drives, and the federal government. But, these sources have been negatively impacted because federal support provided through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is not keeping pace with demand. In addition, surplus products provided by the USDA have decreased as have product donations from food manufacturers. This decreased supply comes at a time when the demand for emergency food assistance is increasing in the country and in some Illinois communities.

"We are so grateful for Gov. Blagojevich's support of Illinois' food banks," said Tom Laughlin, director of the River Bend Foodbank. "Food banks have seen an increase in demand while enduring a diminished supply of food. The Governor's commitment will help stock our shelves and ensure that food will be available for the thousands of hungry people in Central Illinois who turn to us."

The River Bend Foodbank service area includes the following counties:

  • Bureau
  • Hancock
  • Henderson
  • Henry
  • Knox
  •  McDonough
  • Mercer
  • Putnam
  •  Rock Island
  • Stark
  • Warren
  • Whiteside

Established in 1982, River Bend Foodbank distributes millions of pounds of food to hungry people through member agencies and three Kids Cafe programs. For more information, email Tom Laughlin or call (309) 764-7434.