By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
Village leaders in Plainfield are looking for some help as they map out a plan to fight hunger.
September is Hunger Action Month.
During the month, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and more than 200 food banks coast to coast will host awareness campaigns and special events, hoping to bring some much-needed attention to those who go hungry, and a call to action to help.
Once again, the village of Plainfield has answered that call, partnering with multiple area groups to collect food donations to share with those locally in need.
“The village of Plainfield, the C.W. Avery YMCA, Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Plainfield Park District, Plainfield Public Library, and Plainfield School District 202 are hosting a community-wide food drive, collecting donations for Bags of Hope, the Plainfield Area Interfaith Food Pantry, and the St. John Lutheran Church Food Pantry during the month of September,” Mayor Mike Collins read in a proclamation on Aug. 21.
Hunger Action Month was created by Feeding America, a nationwide network that oversees more than 60,000 food pantries.
The effort is part of a national initiative to mobilize the public, to encourage people to take action by working locally to support pantries, and to raise awareness in their communities of the problems that hunger can create.
According to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, more than 600,000 Illinoisans are affected by hunger.
Nationwide, hunger affects 42 million people.
In the United States, 1 in 6 children do not know where their next meal will come from.
A study conducted by Feeding America earlier this year showed Americans who already face hunger are having increased difficultly affording groceries.
The study found that food-insecure individuals face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $527.19 per person per year. That marks a 13 percent increase since 2008. Feeding America noted in the study that people facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.
Food insecurity is a measure defined by the USDA as lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.
Despite that grim news, the number of Americans identified by the USDA as food insecure fell from 50 million in 2009 to 42 million in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
In addition to collecting food at locations around Plainfield this month, village leaders also reminded the public that Sept. 14 also marks national “Go Orange” day. On Sept. 14, residents are encouraged to wear orange as a reminder that hunger is everywhere, and to support local food pantries.
Those donating are asked to bring cereal, canned chicken and tuna, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruits and vegetables, soup, ramen, macaroni and cheese, boxed potatoes, personal hygiene products, paper products, and baby items.
Items will be accepted through Sept. 22.
Volunteers will also collect donations on Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Pace bus stop near the Village Hall.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank provides meals to more than 71,500 people per week in the area, through local food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth programs, and senior assistance programs.
The network includes more than 80 facilities in Will County, including the Plainfield Area Interfaith Food Pantry.
In 2017, the Northern Illinois Food Bank distributed more than 65 million meals to folks in need.
More information on the Northern Illinois Food Bank, including a list of centers and how people can help, can be found on their website, solvehungertoday.org.