Inflation taking toll on food banks as more Chicagoland families face hunger

1 out of every 4 families with children in Chicago area faces food insecurity

ByJudy Hsu and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
More families face hunger as inflation takes toll on food banks
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Inflation is taking a toll on food banks like the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Greater Chicago Food Depository as more families face hunger.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- First, the coronavirus pandemic, and now inflation has some local families struggling to buy necessities like food.

"I've never seen anything like this in my many years of doing this work," said Kate Maehr, executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Together, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank have been supplying food to agencies across the area for more than 40 years. But, soaring food prices are stretching the organizations' budgets thin.

"What that means for the food bank, we're having to do more and that means more food and that also translates to us having to buy more food," said Julie Yurko, president and CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. "We're having to buy more food because donated food is down."

The Northern Illinois Food Bank says it's seeing a 40% increase in need, while the demand at the Greater Chicago Food Depository has jumped about 30%.

"When you all of sudden have to pay $25 a week more for your groceries, that's often a thing that will push a family into needing to go to a food pantry," said Maehr.

The need is especially challenging for families around the holidays.

Giving Tuesday: How you can give and get help in Chicago area

"We all spend a little bit more during the holidays and they feel that too, and with fewer resources, it makes it really hard for them to provide presents," said Yurko.

"We know for families who face hunger, it is often not just a holiday problem but a 365-days-a-year problem," said Maehr.

Despite the challenges, the food banks are continuing to fight hunger, relying on donations big and small, and the kindness of volunteers.

"We believe that when folks choose to get involved with the food bank, whether you need a little help today or you have some help to give, that you're empowered, that you're empowered to make decisions for yourself," Yurko said.

"I am reminded every day that we have people who are so brave who make a decision to walk into a food pantry or a soup kitchen and make a decision to help for themselves and their family," Maehr said.

RELATED: ABC7's Feed the Love 2022

ABC7 Chicago kicked off Feed the Love on Giving Tuesday. The initiative helps fight the growing problem of food insecurity. In addition to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is also participating.

For information on how to help and to donate now, click here.