Despite the abundance of food we see around us this time of year, many families still struggle to get enough to eat.
“In June we assisted 526 households, which is up significantly from last year. A couple hundred households more,” said Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, who’s on the board of the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.
Loaves & Fishes is supported by 11 congregations in McDonough County.
McIlvaine-Newsad said statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show one out of every five households in McDonough County lives in poverty. Many of the children in those families are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school, but those meals are not offered during the summer.
“So in the summer months, when those kids are out of school, that becomes a significant portion of your (family’s) income. How are you going to feed your children?”
She said this is stretching supplies thin for Loaves & Fishes, which is seeking donations of food or money to replenish its stock. Donations can be dropped off at the pantry, which is housed at the First Presbyterian Church, 400 East Carroll Street (at the corner of Carroll and Dudley Streets) in Macomb.
McIlvaine-Newsad said every little bit can make a difference for a household struggling to put food on the table.
“Clients can come in once a month. Depending on the size of their household they receive a certain amount of money in food vouchers. They also have access to a certain number of items in the food pantry,” she said.
Most of the food provided is non-perishable, such as canned and boxed goods. In addition, McIlvaine-Newsad said, “HyVee is incredibly generous – they give day-old bread to us three or four times a week so there is always plenty of bread to go around.”
She said fresh produce and other perishable foods can also be shared.
“Anytime anybody drops anything fresh off it flies off of the shelf,” she said.
Loaves & Fishes was founded 21 years ago.