Donations at Illinois food pantries during the holiday season helps them stay open year round.The line was out the door at the Marilliac St. Vincent food pantry in Chicago ahead of Thanksgiving, which isn't unusual, according to Greater Chicago Food Depository executive director Katie Maehr.
She says reliance on food banks like hers is at a record high, and increased holiday donations make up a significant amount of the food it'll distribute for months afterwards.
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"40 percent of our revenue comes in a six-week period," Maehr said. "It's critical for the food drives that provide food for us, but the truth of the matter is hunger is not something that happens only in the tail end of November and in December. Hunger is a 365-day-a-year problem."
Maehr says more and more people coming to food banks are people with jobs, sometimes several of them, but who still struggle to afford basics like food. Demand rose sharply during the recession, and Maehr says it shows no signs of decreasing.