Hunger: A Growing Issue in DuPage County

Phanetti Lee first came to Naperville food pantry Loaves and Fishes in November 2009. The unemployed single mother says the help couldn’t have come soon enough.

“I don’t qualify for food stamps, so it is nice to have something to help in between,” Lee says.

A recent study conducted by the National Food Bank, Feeding America, shows a 168 percent increase in people needing assistance in the last five years. Other statistics in the study show one in eight people in DuPage County are hungry, forty-eight percent of them are children, and forty-three percent of households receiving food assistance have a working adult in the home.

That means, although employed, their jobs don’t provide enough income for all their families’ needs. And with rising living costs like healthcare, energy and housing, officials say people have to choose between those expenses and putting food on the table.

Christopher Strupp of Northern Illinois Food Bank explains, “What we are seeing are people who are working and earning an honest living, but are having trouble making ends meet.”

Loaves and Fishes food pantry reports around 100 new families coming each month since July of 2009. They’ve been serving Naperville residents for more than 25 years, and because of the increase in demand, they recently opened their doors to all DuPage County residents.

“This hunger study has certainly raised awareness, and through this we need to say that in a county like DuPage and a community like Naperville we will not let hunger affect the lives of each other, especially children,” says Charles McLimans, Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes.

And that means more food off the shelves and out the door to families in need.

“I know I will be employed again sometime, but for now I am grateful for the help I can get.” Lee said.

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