Television and radio stations throughout Illinois are uniting in a statewide fundraising drive to combat hunger and food bank shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic -- Illinois Broadcasters Uniting Against Hunger.
Illinois broadcasters, in partnership with Feeding Illinois and the Illinois Broadcasters Association, encourage their viewers and listeners to contribute monetary donations that will go a long way to bolster dwindling food supplies at area food banks. Corporations and individuals looking for a way to make a difference in the lives of neighbors experiencing food hardship can contribute at feedingIllinois.org/unite or by texting FEEDIL to 91999.
"Illinois broadcasters have joined together during these extraordinary times," Illinois Broadcasters Association Board Chairman John Idler said. "The need to shore up food supplies and help feed the hungry has never been greater. The IBA has a long tradition of rallying our members in times of crisis. We have never been prouder to serve the people of Illinois."
On Wednesday, April 1, Conagra Brands Foundation joined the fundraising effort with an offer to match new donations. For every dollar donated starting April 1, Conagra will match those gifts, up to 100,000. Thanks to Conagra and all of our generous donors, the fundraising goal has been raised to $1,500,000.
The organizers of the Chicago Auto Show announced on Wednesday, April 8, that they were donating $15,000 to the cause. The Chicago Automobile Trade Association puts on the nation's largest auto show and represents hundreds of local car dealerships year-round. The CATA said this gift is just a natural extension of the good work the auto dealers do in their communities throughout the year.
On Saturday, April 25, Illinois broadcasters reached their goal of fundraising $1,500,000!
TV and radio stations throughout the state of Illinois continue to broadcast stories underscoring the urgent need for food during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis
People who never before relied on food banks are now turning to them to feed their families. Prior to COVID-19, one in eight Americans struggled with hunger. As the virus continues to wreak havoc on the economy, and Illinois unemployment rises, the need for food increases. In recent weeks, one Chicago-area food bank estimates a 25-40% increase in clients needing help. Meanwhile, the Northern Illinois Food Bank's pantry, located in Rockford, served double its normal number of neighbors just last week alone.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository supplies a network of more than 700 food pantries and shelters in Chicago, serving approximately 800,000 people.
"The need is going to be immense. That is our No. 1 concern, the sheer number of people needing food because their income is suddenly gone. The best thing you can do right now is to make a donation to support your local food bank if you can," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank covers 13 counties of northern Illinois, including suburban Chicago, and serves 500,000 people a year.
"We are already seeing an influx of neighbors in need coming to our programs and to our member food pantries for food assistance", said Julie Yurko, president and CEO of Northern Illinois Food Bank. "Our greatest priority right now is ensuring we have the resources to not only feed our neighbors today, but that we can continue to do so in the weeks and months to come as the economy and our neighbors recover from this crisis."
The goal of Illinois Broadcasters Uniting Against Hunger is to raise awareness and dollars so food banks can purchase the food they need to adequately serve the hungry in their local communities.
There are eight independent food banks serving 102 counties in Illinois, all of which are represented by Feeding Illinois.