Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Safety net programs must be protected in the deficit reduction plan!

Right now the White House and Congressional leaders, including Illinois’ own Sen. Dick Durbin, are negotiating a deficit reduction plan that would impact key federal programs for decades to come. They are hoping to reach an agreement by Friday, July 1.

Some of the proposals on the table would result in deep budget cuts to safety net programs, and would radically change the structure of important programs and even the budget process itself.

Your voice is needed to protect the vulnerable in this negotiations process!

Please contact President Obama, Vice President Biden and Sen. Durbin and ask them to protect programs for low-income families and individuals in the deficit reduction plan. We must ensure that deficit reduction is achieved in a way that does not increase poverty. Please visit the Food Depository’s Advocacy Center for more information and instructions on how to take action TODAY!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why are you committed to ending hunger?

The Greater Chicago Food Depository is launching the “I am rallying to end hunger because…” project at the 26th annual Hunger Walk tomorrow at Soldier Field. This annual 5K (3.1 miles) directly benefits the Food Depository's network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in Cook County that help hundreds of thousands of people put food on their table. It's also an opportunity to take a stand in the fight against hunger.

We want to know what motivates you to join the fight against hunger. If you could send just one message about this issue to elected officials and other decision-makers in our state, what would it be? The “I am rallying to end hunger because…” project seeks to capture the many voices of anti-hunger advocates like you across Cook County.

Here are the details of the project and how you can get involved:

1. Attend the Hunger Walk on Saturday – registration is available the morning of the walk beginning at 7 a.m. Step off is at 8:15 a.m.

2. Watch for volunteers with the “I AM RALLYING TO END HUNGER BECAUSE…” sign.

3. Answer the question: Why are you rallying to end hunger?

4. On the back of your message, sign a letter that will be sent to your elected officials, urging them to protect key nutrition safety net programs in the budget and Farm Bill.

5. Say cheese! Get your picture taken while holding up your message.

6. Enjoy the walk!

Stay tuned to the Food Depository's Advocacy Center to see pictures and video from this year’s event. Let's send a strong message that ending hunger in our communities should be a top priority!

Friday, June 17, 2011

House votes to cut food for the hungry

The House voted on Thursday to slash the amount of food the federal government provides for hungry people. The bill, which will be advanced to the Senate, would slice 20 percent from The Emergency Food Assistance Program next year. This is on top of a possible 50 percent cut this year. For Cook County, this would mean at least 3 million fewer pounds of food in the next year just as we witness record levels of demand at pantries—65 percent higher than three years ago. Most troubling is that the bill cuts funding for the Women, Infants and Children Program.

Still, there is hope. First, there is time to take action. The Senate likely will not vote on this bill for several weeks. Another silver lining is that seven of eight Cook County House members voted 'no' on these cuts--that is because of you. Thank you to everyone who responded to our advocacy alert this week. As we address this “new normal,” it will require more support from every sector of the community.

Knox College honors Kate Maehr

Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, recently traveled to Galesburg, Ill., to accept an honorary degree from Knox College. The award is based upon the recommendation of the College's Honorary Degrees Committee, made up of trustees and faculty members, and honors Kate's civic leadership and efforts on behalf of hungry people. Congratulations, Kate! On behalf of the staff and volunteers of the Food Depository, thank you to Knox College for recognizing Kate's leadership and our work in providing food for hungry people in Cook County.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Breakfast in the Classroom nourishes the next generation

Last Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago Public Schools may change the structure of the mandatory Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) initiative enacted in January. The Greater Chicago Food Depository has long advocated for expansion of Breakfast in the Classroom. The research is undeniable: Breakfast in the Classroom results in more children receiving more breakfasts. For the 82 Chicago schools that implemented the program in March, breakfast participation increased from 26 percent to 62 percent. In a school district where more than 75 percent of students are low-income, the program has meant more food for hungry children.

At many schools, the program has been lauded by administrators and parents. On a recent visit to Shoesmith School in Kenwood, the Food Depository witnessed a cheerful staff preparing healthy breakfasts for delighted students. We watched as children sat at their desks and dug in to a morning meal of an omelet, banana, bran muffin and juice. These nourishing building blocks are critical for a school where 90 percent of students are low income; research shows that proper nutrition and academic performance are inextricably linked. Students participating in BIC better concentrate on classwork once those early-morning hunger pangs are quelled.

For the Food Depository, whose mission includes “striving to end hunger in our community,” BIC is a key step in helping to nourish the next generation and build a better future. Children represent 37 percent of the people we serve, or 250,000 children under the age of 18. We must ensure that they have the nutrition they need to succeed. The Food Depository remains strongly supportive of Breakfast in the Classroom.