Soup kitchens, food stamps in greater demand

CHICAGO For many, the warm meal at San Lucas, located in the 2900-block of West North Avenue, is the only one they will have all week. Dave Figueroa Rodriguez, 42, works part-time and lives in a shelter. He says he is grateful for his lunch.

"We would've had nowhere to go. We would've been starving all day," said Rodriguez. "I would like to get a job."

"It is helping, but we need more to help us, to help homeless people survive," said Francisco Robinson. "It is really hard when you are outside."

The food kitchen staff says they have seen an increase of people asking for a warm meal.

"Lately, we are seeing 120, 150. During the summer we had a lot of kids that come here and eat," said Carmen Flores Rance, San Lucas Church.

"I come here every Tuesday. This is the only meal I am going to get," said Tracy Robinson.

Officials say there is a loss of revenue in Cook County because of the lack of food stamp participation.

"It's the patriotic thing to do because every dollar that's spent on food puts about $1.73 in economic activity into the economy," said U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, 9th Congressional District of Ill.

Diane Doherty of the Ill. Hunger Coalition says the lines of people applying for food stamps are increasing. However, more need to apply to the program, which will provide them with an Illinois Link Card that is similar to a credit card.

"We've gone to an electronic benefit transfer system where people get a Link card, where they actually can go and they just buy their food and it reduces the amount they can buy on their Link card," said Doherty

To apply to the food stamp program over the phone, call the Illinois Hunger Coalition's toll-free number at 1-800-359-2163 or go to your local Department of Human \Services office and apply. You can also request the application be mailed to you.

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