CHICAGO (WLS) -- September is Hunger Action Month. It is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the millions of Americans who don't have enough to eat and for all of us to take action to fix it.
According to Feeding America, more than 1.2 million people in Illinois are facing hunger. More than 300,000 of those are children.
"It is a sobering story despite the fact that the pandemic already feels like it is far behind us," said Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "We are still serving record numbers of people here in Cook County. In fact, our numbers are up about 11% from where we were last year at this time. There are lot things that's making it difficult for families and individuals including inflation and continued challenges just being able to put food on the table."
The Northern Illinois Food Bank serves the suburbs of Chicago and goes out into the rural areas of Northern Illinois, working with 900 food pantries.
"We too our seeing a tremendous increase in need," said Julie Yurko, President and CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. "This past year we served on average a half a million people every month and we provided 82.4 million meals to those folks. That's a 30% increase over last year and 70% over pre-pandemic."
So what can you do to help? "All the great work that happens at food banks and food pantries is because people choose to get involved," Yurko said. "We would love to have you during Hunger Action Month.
Volunteers can do things such as packing and sorting food. The Northern Illinois Food Bank also has a downloadable calendar "30 Ways In 30 Days" with things people can do each day of the month. The ideas skipping your morning coffee and donating the money to a food pantry.
"Hunger is solvable problem. We have enough food in this country for everyone to have the food that they need to thrive," Maehr said. "But we have to make sure that we lift our voice, we show up, we volunteer and we make this to be a world that we all want for all of our neighbors in need."
For more information on the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Northern Illinois Food Bank: