Food insecurity up locally, new study says

By Jim McCabe on June 7 at 6:55am

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A new study indicates food insecurity in West Central Illinois is a growing problem.

The Central Illinois Food Bank released an annual study this week called “Map the Meal Gap”. The results from the annual study indicate 13.2 percent of people in Morgan County are food insecure.

A detailed analysis by the organization Feeding America indicates there are about 87-hundred food-insecure people in the four-county area of Morgan, Cass, Scott and Greene Counties. The rate in Morgan County is about one percent higher than in the other three counties.

Krista Lisser with the Central Illinois Foodbank appeared on yesterday’s edition of WLDS’ “What’s On Your Mind?” to remind us what exactly it means to be food insecure.

“Food insecurity means that you don’t know where your next meal is coming from; you’re not sure where you’re going to get that food. What we know is that- and have always known is- it’s a continuing proble, food security, in Central Illinois,” says Lisser.

“We may not see it day in and day out, but it is continuing to grow. A lot of it has to do with [the fact that] we’re in a rural community, and rural communities are hit hard with economic times right now. It has not been a trending-up process for people here in our area, which is why we’re seeing that increase in food insecurity in our area,” she continues.

Lisser cites specific factors like lack of jobs and rising cost of food as the reasons for food insecurity.

She says for affected individuals, the Feeding America study indicates an additional $3.6 million is required to meet food needs.

‘”What that means is that if we were going to go to the grocery store and buy a meal- if everybody was going to be fed by actually going to the grocery store and buying their meal- we need $3.6 million more to give to people to be able to go to the grocery store and buy a meal for themselves,” she says.

“Now luckily, we’re fortunate enough to those who are food insecure that we’re able to provide some outlets for them through mobile pantries, through pantries here in Jacksonville and the surrounding area that they are able to go and get food,” Lisser continues.

The study indicates over 1,600 children are food-insecure in Morgan County. Lisser says with children out of school, the problem will get worse over the summer.

“Kids aren’t going to get that free lunch, they’re not going to get that free breakfast, so really it’s a time right now where we’re hit hard with people trying to figure out how they’re going to be able to feed their kids, feed themselves this time of year,” she says.

Illinois’ food insecurity rate is 14 percent. The Central Illinois Food Bank says the local rate has gone up since last year, but the state rate is decreasing. Lisser says the best way to help the rate go down- donate to your local pantry or to the Central Illinois Foodbank either money or food.

Lisser says just five dollars would buy two meals for someone.

Morgan County has a Mobile Food Pantry coming up on Thursday, June 19th from 5 to 7 p.m. at Central Christian Church at 359 West College.

For more information on the Feeding America study, visit www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap. You can listen to the full interview with Lisser on this story on our website.