Our Chicago: Giving Tuesday approaches as food banks face 'unprecedented' demand

Rising prices impact families, food pantries

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Our Chicago Part 1
Greater Chicago Food Depository Executive Director and CEO Kate Maehr joined ABC7 to discuss food pantry needs ahead of Giving Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- We've eaten turkey, shopped at businesses big and small and now we're looking ahead to helping others on Giving Tuesday.

It was created in 2012 as a way to encourage people to do good around the world and right here in the Chicago area.

One of the organizations doing that is the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Kate Maehr, the executive director and CEO, called the need right now, "unprecedented, unrivaled, staggering, sobering."

"The truth is before the pandemic we were facing so many of our neighbors who needed the support of community-based food programs all across the region," Maehr said. "When COVID happened, we saw record numbers of people having to show up at food pantries. And I am so sad to share that that number remains high: 40% over where we were before the pandemic."

"I think one of the challenges were seeing right now is that even as people are getting back to normal, getting back on their feet, there are challenges with inflation and the supply chain. And that is putting an extra burden on families that were already living close to the margins," Maehr said. "So people are having to turn to food pantries even though they may be back at work and they need our support now more than ever."

Rising food prices are impacting not only families, but the Greater Chicago Food Depository itself.

"So we're actually seeing that impact in two ways. First, the food that food banks all across this country are having to secure we are having to buy food and we are having to pay so much more for that food," Maehr said. "And then at the same time, families across the community are also feeling the impact and so it's making them more likely to show up at food pantries."

Another organization that also helps families during the holidays and year round is the Salvation Army. The money raised during the Red Kettle campaign underway right now is critical.

Captain Xavier Montenegro with the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division joined ABC7 to discuss the Hope Marches On campaign ahead of Giving Tuesday.

"This year our campaign is called Hope Marches On and we're trying to raise $18 million to help needy families in the area," said Captain Xavier Montenegro with the Salvation Army Metropolitan Division. "70% of our total donations for the year happen during the holiday season. So it's critical that we're able to meet our goal to help people not only now but also throughout the year."

He explained what the Salvation Army is doing right now to brighten the holidays for families who might be struggling.

"So right now, we're doing a couple of big things. So we're helping people to provide a nice meal during the holiday season for their family and friends that they might be having over," Montenegro said. "And we have holiday food boxes we're giving out to a few thousand people throughout Chicagoland but also we're doing an initiative called Angel Tree where again we're helping to provide hope for families that might be struggling, who have gone through hard times the past few months. And to provide toys for Christmas. We know providing a good holiday season gives joy and happiness to kids."

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