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The Greater Chicago Food Depository has an active plan for tackling hunger issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus closed schools and businesses, the need for food assistance grew exponentially.
Their website directs people to Chicago agencies offering food assistance; by opening the link, people can find locations near them using their zip code — 351 locations found overall. These include mobile pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, producemobile, and Older Adult Choice Markets — the Depository recommends calling first for hours and requirements.
“While some programs [in Chicago] have temporarily closed, we’re working closely with our network to support continued operations.”
Other programs available to Chicagoans include neighborhood popups, where to find meals for children, P-EBT, and assistance applying for SNAP, Medicaid. They also provide referrals for other public services.
Hunger and Food Insecurity Grows as Coronavirus Invades
Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) of the National Academies defines hunger and food insecurity as found on the USDA website:
- Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.
- Food Insecurity occurs when household-level economic and social conditions result in limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
Before the pandemic, the USDA reported 13.6 percent of households with children 18 and younger in the U.S. experienced food insecurity. Children who rely on subsidized or free breakfasts and lunches at school have been particularly struck since so many cannot attend a physical classroom.
The P-EBT is a USDA program designed to “help buy food for school-age children between the ages of 3-17 and youth aged 18-22 (in high school),” according to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Another factor attributing to the need for food assistance is unemployment. Each state determines what an individual can receive in benefits. In Illinois, benefits are 47 percent of their average weekly earnings from their two highest-earning quarters.
As of August, 204, 235 Chicagoans were unemployed.
According to an Oct. 10, 2020 report, the United States unemployment rate was 7.9 percent based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest records, which equates to 12.6 million people. These numbers do not include those whose benefits have expired or underemployed who never qualified.
The Greater Chicago Depository seeks volunteers and food donations at all times. However, the need has risen tremendously in Chicago during the pandemic, so they are experiencing greater than normal donations.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Greater Chicago Food Depository: Coronavirus Updates and Information
USDA: Child Nutrition Programs; Definitions of Food Security
Marketplace: How many people are unemployed right now? by Samantha Fields
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Dana McMahan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License