Prairieland United Way’s Live United Food Drive Under Way Through May 31

By Benjamin Cox on May 3, 2024 at 12:57pm

The Prairieland United Way is trying to help meet a large need in the Jacksonville community throughout the month of May.

The Live United Food Drive started last Wednesday and will run through May 31st. Executive Director Karen Walker says that food insecurity is currently on a fast rise in the Jacksonville area: “Any person that’s been paying attention to what’s going on in our community knows that we’ve seen an increase in need for our food distributors – our food bank, the Salvation Army, the food center are all asking for help. We know that coming into the summer months, once children are out of school, that’s going to increase the need for families to meet those needs. Kids especially are going to feel that need. That’s really where our focus is at. We were able to do this drive last year and were very successful with the distribution at our Summer Fest event. We thought that we’d bring it back again this year. We knew there would be a need, and we want to be able to do our part to meet that need.”

The food that is collected through the drive will be distributed at Summerfest, a free community event to be held in conjunction with Jacksonville Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Jacksonville Food Resource Group on June 12th from 4 to 6 pm in Community Park. This event will include food distribution and a resource fair for youth. It will feature free new summer clothing and shoes for kids, a food truck, Ferris wheel, games, and information about summer activities for kids.

Walker says that you can drop off food, geared mainly towards older children who can prepare meals for themselves, at several locations in Jacksonville: “We have the area banks who are our drop off sites. They are always great supporters for whenever we are doing drives like this. We know that they are handy for people because there are so many locations scattered throughout town that are visible. With daytime and weekend hours that are very accessible for people to go to and most often people are comfortable with their banking location, it’s ideal. We have Bank of Springfield, CNB Bank & Trust, Farmers State Bank & Trust Company, First National Bank of Arenzville, Heartland Bank & Trust, Petefish-Skiles – so really most any bank throughout Jacksonville whether its downtown or on Morton Avenue, South Main, or College Avenue – really anywhere you want to go, you’re going to find a bank that’s participating in this food drive. They have the collection boxes inside for whatever you want to donate.”

Walker says that the food will be distributed along with a general food distribution by DOT Foods at Summerfest. She says that people should try to stick to those foods steered towards juveniles who can make meals for themselves, but they will take all donated food from the drive and make sure it gets to the people that need it the most.

Walker says that volunteers will be needed for the June 12th food distribution. For more information or to volunteer for the food distribution at Summerfest, contact the Prairieland United Way office at 217-245-4557.