Holiday reveals increased need among Chicago`s hungry - FOX 32 News Chicago

Holiday reveals increased need among Chicago`s hungry

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Rogers Park food bank found out how critical the need for help is last week. A Just Harvest feeds the hungry in Chicago every day of the year, but this holiday season has been record-breaking.

A Just Harvest Executive Director Rev. Marylin Pagan-Banks spoke with FOX 32's Joanie Lum on Good Day Chicago Monday morning, to explain how the nonprofit goes about carrying out its mission to break bread and end hunger every day of the year – and why the need is so great this holiday season.

The nonprofit serves a hot dinner every night. Leading into Thanksgiving the organization also gave away "holiday kits," including an uncooked turkey and traditional fixings to those in need who would like to prepare a home-cooked meal for their families, but simply couldn't afford it. They plan to do the same leading into Christmas.

The North Side community kitchen often serves twice as many people as they have room for. They are concerned about the growing number of young people who need healthy meals.

A Just Harvest told FOX 32 News that people braved the cold and lined up for two blocks, hoping to get one. This was something the community kitchen had never seen before, and demonstrated just how much need has grown this year. They gave away 305 kits by Thanksgiving week. Last year, they gave away 380 kits total. There are four weeks to go before Christmas.

Since A Just Harvest is funded with private donations, they are filling the gaps where government programs were cut, including sending children's meals to a school across the street.

Cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – the food stamp program known as SNAP - may have factored into this development. A family of four now receives $36 less per month in food assistance, since Congress did not renew a funding increase that was part of the Recovery Act. In Illinois, about 16% of the population participates in the food assistance program.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository confirms more people in Cook County are searching for food assistance, since Nov. 1. The depository distributes to 650 Cook County programs including, A Just Harvest.

For more information on how you can help feed families in need, especially this holiday season, please visit A Just Harvest's official website.

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