This year’s drought has affected food banks and food pantries across the state. The drought didn’t just affect the price of food at supermarkets. It also had an impact on the amount of food coming into food banks. “Even before the drought this summer, we had seen food prices going up and certainly a beginning constrain in the supply of donated food to us,” said Kate Maehr, chief executive of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “The drought over the summer just exacerbated that.”
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Maehr says there must be a “sobering conversation” about the record number of Americans who are struggling to put food on the table. “They are showing up at the food pantries in this city, across this state, across the country,” Maehr said, speaking in Chicago. “There is not as much donated food available, and at the same time there are some serious looming threats to the safety net that provides support for all Americans in need.” Members of Congress must soon take up a Farm Bill which could cut funding for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
In 2011, the Feeding Illinois Food Bank Network, which is composed of eight food banks, served an estimated 1.4 million people in Illinois. That’s a 61 percent increase since the recession began, according to the Feeding Illinois website.