Chicago food pantries in urgent need of supplies amid migrant crisis

John Garcia Image
Saturday, March 9, 2024
Chicago food pantries in urgent need of supplies amid migrant crisis
Food pantries in the Chicago area are seeing an increased demand and an urgent need for supplies amid the migrant crisis.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a urgent need for supplies at food pantries in the Chicago area.

Workers at the food pantries said they've never seen the need so great.

Jose Miguel Blanco and his wife Suhail depend on the Nourishing Hope Food Pantry for much of what they feed their family. They have been in Chicago since October after arriving from Venezuela.

"It's been hard for us," Blanco's Spanish interpreter said. "Been here six months and we haven't had any opportunities to come get food or any resources."

Every day the food pantry is open, clients line up out the door, waiting for the chance to collect food. Volunteers behind the counter work to fill their orders.

"I think it just shows how necessary it is that we are here and we keep doing this," volunteer Chuck Rogers said.

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The Nourishing Hope Pantry, which has locations on the North and West Sides of the city, has seen a huge jump in demand, about a 20% increase, over the past year. They are at the point where they occasionally have to turn people away.

"The reality is folks are struggling to put food on their table, and we need to find ways to continue to support them," said Kellie O'Connell with Nourishing Hope Food Pantry.

Experts said they are seeing a number of reasons for the demand, including inflation, combined with the end of federal benefits for many. An increase in new arrival migrants coming to Chicago has also contributed to the need.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository supplies about half of the food the pantry gives out, which serves about 800 programs and feeds some 200,000 Chicago-area households a month.

Some describe the current challenges food banks are facing as a perfect storm of supply not meeting the demand.

Food banks are trying to meet the increased need while donations are flat.

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Those who run food pantries say they see no end in sight for the increase demand for their services. In fact, they see an even greater need coming once school ends and students no longer receive free meals.