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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Jun 27, 2016

Illinois Expands Reach Of Summer Meal Programs, But 686,000 Kids Still Missing Out

More low-income Illinois children are participating in summer meal programs, but there are still nearly 686,000 eligible kids missing out, a new report shows.

About 112,000 low-income Illinois children received summer meals on a daily basis last July, according to the report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger group.

That figure represents a 4.7 percent increase from July 2014, when about 107,000 low-income Illinois children accessed summer meal programs each day.

While advocates are pleased by the 4.7 percent increase, they point out that summer meals are reaching only one in seven low-income Illinois children who need them.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Mar 3, 2015

Over 1,000 IL Schools Joined Federal Free Meal Program This Year

More than 14,000 high-poverty schools nationwide -- including over 1,000 in Illinois -- adopted a new federal program this academic year aimed at improving access to free meals for students, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enables qualifying high-poverty schools to serve no-cost breakfast and lunches to all students. The program, designed to make school meal operations more efficient and help reduce hunger, eliminates the need for schools to collect household applications to determine which students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Community eligibility, which began as a pilot program in 11 states, including Illinois, became an option for qualifying schools nationwide this academic year. Illinois was among three states, allong with Kentucky and Michigan, to roll out community eligibility in some schools in the 2011-2012 academic year.

"Community eligibility not only reduces redundant paperwork at high-poverty schools but also makes possible huge gains in meeting vulnerable children's nutritional needs by providing them with a healthy breakfast and lunch at school each day," CPBB's report reads. "Reliable access to healthy meals, in turn, better prepares students to learn. The popularity of community eligibility in its first year of nationwide implementation speaks to schools' desire to improve access to healthy meals while reducing red tape, as well as to the option's sound design."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Aug 19, 2013

Duckworth Discusses 'Disturbing' Cuts To SNAP At Suburban Meeting

Recent federal proposals to slash billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are something that U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D, IL-8) says she takes personally.

“I was hungry as a child,” the congresswoman said at a Monday roundtable discussion in Arlington Heights on hunger and SNAP cuts.

When Duckworth was in high school, her father lost his job and was unemployed for about fours years. During that time, Duckworth’s family relied on SNAP, or food stamps. But even with SNAP assistance, Duckworth said she often had to save items from her school breakfast and lunch to avoid going hungry during the weekend.

“It just disturbs me that in the greatest nation in the world, one of the richest nations on the face of the earth, we have kids who go to bed hungry ... we have seniors who go to bed hungry,” Duckworth said. “We have adults who have to choose between medicine or food, and that’s just simply wrong.”

PI Original
Fri Aug 5, 2011

Poverty, Food Stamp Use Hits Record High

The most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows the country now has a record-breaking number of people receiving food stamp benefits. Alabama saw a huge uptick following a major natural disaster but one root to their problem is their high poverty rate --something the Chicago-area knows well too.

Quick Hit
Thu Mar 31, 2011

Number Of The Day: 845,910

That’s the number of people in Cook County who are “food insecure,” according to a report by the Chicago Reporter citing data by Feeding America, a hunger-relief charity. That means 1 in 5 people or 16.1 percent of people here don’t have enough food every day. What’s more frightening is that 36 percent of them are actually living above the federal poverty line.

PI Original
by Adam Doster
Tue Jan 26, 2010

Food Insecurity Grows In Illinois

In the United States, hunger is often perceived as a foreign problem, reserved for destitute villages in the developing world. But the national recession has brought into focus the magnitude of food insecurity on our own soil.  And Illinois is no exception.

PI Original
by Angela Caputo
Wed Sep 9, 2009

Coalition Organizes Against Wal-Mart's "Race To The Bottom"

It's no secret that Wal-Mart has been making inroads at City Hall. But in those South Side neighborhoods targeted by the company for new stores, there's still of skepticism over the mega-retailer's intentions. Today, the newly-formed Good Jobs Chicago coalition -- made up ...

PI Original
by Angela Caputo
Wed Jul 15, 2009

Illinois Cafeteria Workers Head To Capitol Hill (Updated w/video)

Earlier this month, the agriculture appropriations committees in both chambers of Congress agreed to spend an additional $13 billion this year on nutrition programs. Exactly how much of that money will go toward incorporating fresh fruits and whole grains into rotation at ...