Hunger: the Hard Facts

Though it is often a hidden problem, hunger plagues every single county in our state. And it's probably closer than you think. In fact, more than one in every five children in our state struggles with hunger.

Think about it: that's about 6 kids in each kindergarten class who may not have dinner when they go home from school.

Feeding Illinois, a charitable 501(c)(3) organization, is Illinois’ state food bank association. Its eight member food banks serve every county in Illinois through a vast network of partners, including food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Remarkably, of the 1.9 million people struggling with hunger, over 1.4 million have been assisted by their network.

As you help our state's legal community fight this unprecedented reality, we've assembled the following facts for you to share with your friends and colleagues. Some may startle you. We also encourage you to read true stories collected by our food banks about hungry families in communities across our state.

  • Food banks are incredibly efficient stewards of their financial resources. On average, our state's 8 food banks can turn every dollar they receive into 5 meals for hungry families!
  • Over 1.9 million people are considered food insecure, which means they do not have regular access to nutritious food.
  • 38 percent of food insecure households and 34 percent of children in Illinois exceed federal poverty guidelines that would qualify them for public food assistance. Those individuals must rely on charities to feed themselves and their families.
  • Enrollment in free and reduced price school meals continued to climb. More than 770,000 Illinois children received lunch and 293,000 received breakfast in 2009.
  • Annually, our state’s food banks provide about 66.3 million meals to children through after-school or summer programs, back-pack programs, Kids Cafes and school based pantries.
  • In 2011, Feeding Illinois food banks distributed 120 million pounds of food to more than 2,000 food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens, ultimately reaching an estimated 1.4 million people in Illinois. This is a staggering 61% increase since the recession began.

More Resources

  • Map the Meal Gap: A new study released by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, reveals that 34 percent of children under the age of 18 and 38 percent of households are struggling with hunger in the 102 counties Feeding Illinois food banks serve. The study, Map the Meal Gap, is the first time such localized data has been available. Check out the interactive map to find detailed information on food insecurity in your county.
  • Heartland Alliance: One of Illinois' most important poverty and human rights watchdog groups, Heartland Alliance analyzes data and develops policy to improve lives and reduce poverty. Visit their site to learn more about their incredible efforts in our state and around the world.

Partner Organizations

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