More than 20,000 people and nearly 7,000 families in central Illinois receive food or other services from Central Illinois Foodbank and their affiliates and programs each week, according to a new study on hunger by Feeding America.
The study, “Hunger in America 2014,” looked at the food bank and its affiliates, gathering information of the demographics of those in need, as well as the number of people seeking help from these programs.
According to the report, the organization and its affiliates cover 21 counties in Illinois, including Morgan, Brown, Pike, Cass and Scott counties and serves 20,700 people — some of which may have been counted multiple times. Annually, it served 1,081,900 people and 357,100 families in 2013.
Of the people who received services, about 34 percent were 17 years older and under, 11.5 percent were 18 to 29, 23.2 percent were 30-49, 13.9 percent were 50 to 59, and 17.4 percent were 60 and older.
The annual income of a majority of the clients was $1 to $10,000, with about 39.6 percent of clients falling in this income bracket. About 27.7 percent of clients made between $10,001 and $20,000, and 19.9 percent made $20,001 to $30,000 and 4 percent made more than $30,000.
The clients who receive services also cope with their food shortages by eating food past their expiration date, selling or pawning items for money, watering down food or drinks, purchasing food in dented or damaged packages and receiving help from family in friends. The number one coping strategy among those surveyed was purchasing inexpensive and unhealthy foods, according to the report.
With the number of people receiving services, it is becoming more difficult for the organizations to supply goods and services. About 13.4 percent of organizations said they do not have enough money to continue services, 11.9 percent said they did not have enough food, 7.5 percent said they did not have enough support, and 1.5 percent said the community did not need the services they provided.
In the past 12 months, about 20 percent of programs had to turn people away for some reason: 18.2 percent because they ran out of food, 42.4 percent because the client came more than the program allowed, 24.2 percent because the client lived outside the service area, 6.1 percent of their clients were turned away because their income was too high, and 36.4 percent were turned away for other reasons.
Most programs in the study had just enough food to meet the needs of their clients. About 61 percent could meet the needs of those they served, and 19.5 percent had more food than they needed or had less food than they needed.
The most requested food that clients were not able to receive were fresh fruits and vegetables, with 64.2 percent of clients requesting those items, and 68.9 percent of programs claim the healthier food is too expensive to buy.
Samantha McDaniel can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1233, or on Twitter @JCNews_samantha.