Sherri served food for nearly three decades. Now, she's on the receiving end.
"You can only draw unemployment for six months and then they want to start you out at $8.25 when you were making a lot more money," Sherri said.
The Eastern Illinois Foodbank distributed goods to 200 families Saturday at Normal West. Recipients formed an orderly line with their bags, boxes and carts in the school's lobby. Food options ranged from canned goods, produce, desserts, bread and other cooking supplies.
Mary, who also was there Saturday picking up food, is collecting Social Security disability benefits and looks after her grandkids when their parents are out of town.
“If I didn’t have the food banks to make it from check to check then I probably wouldn’t survive very well," she said. "Because when you live on disability you don’t … you don’t get a lot. And when you live alone of course you’re doing your own bills and stuff. So, this is how I survive. This little old nana loves her food banks.”
Fourteen percent of people in eastern Illinois are considered “food insecure,” according to data from Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks. The rate is higher for children, at 20 percent.
Eastern Illinois Foodbank Partnership Coordinator Jarrod Rodgers said people facing food insecurity are not sure where their next meal is coming from.
“That’s someone that is the working poor. That’s going to be individuals whose combined income is $2,000 a month and they need $2,400," Rodgers said. "That’s food insecurity, so there’s an income there and it’s not enough to cover all the meals they need.”
Julie said she doesn't consider herself food insecure.
"One way or another we scrap something together. What I get here today, you'd be surprised what I can do with it," she said.
She said her family is running low on food and she wants to make her family a good Christmas dinner.
"Everyone in my family works," Julie said, referencing her daughter and son-in-law. "We just can't seem to make the ends tie together."
Dayna Brown is Unit 5’s communication director and coordinated the distribution. She said kids need good food to eat at home to be successful students.
“This is a really good partnership for Unit 5 because we want to make sure our students have no barriers to them coming to school and to performing in the classroom," Brown said.
The Eastern Illinois Foodbank serves 18 counties in eastern Illinois including McLean, Champaign, DeWitt, Livingston and Woodford. The Urbana-based organization provided 8.9 million meals in 2016.
The Center for Hope Food Pantry Network distributes food Tuesday mornings from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at 1308 East Empire Street in Bloomington, or the Temba Pantry at 14940 Old Colonial Road in Bloomington from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
Editor's note: Incorrect information about the Midwest Food Bank has been removed from this story.
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