The rate of “food hardship” in Illinois is up slightly. It was 17.6 percent last year – the percentage of people saying in a survey for the Food Research and Action Center that at some point, they couldn’t get the food they needed for themselves or their family. This is up from 17.5 percent the year before. Diane Doherty of the Illinois Hunger Coalition says programs like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) help, but what’s really needed is better jobs.
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“There aren’t enough good jobs. There aren’t enough good jobs with adequate hours, and so as a result, people cut back on those things that they can cut back on – and food tends to be one of them,” she said. The rate is a little higher Downstate than in the Chicago area, which Doherty attributes to the amount of money Downstate residents have to spend on gas. The Illinois rate of food hardship is below the national rate of 18.2 percent.
Doherty says this is a problem for both adults and children: Malnourished adults don’t perform well at work, and under-fed children don’t do well in school.