WIUM Tristates Public Radio

food insecurity

As the new school year gets underway, some students are in classrooms and others are at home but one thing is now clear: all kids can get free school meals. That’s because the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program, has extended the pandemic provisions it introduced last spring, which include eliminating the requirement that families apply for reduced-fees or free meals. 

While COVID-19 has hampered farmers this year by forcing many farmers markets and restaurants to close, usually it’s the weather that threatens crops. A practice called “gleaning” helps save crops from going to waste while feeding those in need. 

Heavy rain was causing flooding all along the Arkansas River. Before Joe Tierney knew it, water from the nearby creek was creeping forward onto his farm in Bixby, Oklahoma. He had to evacuate, leaving behind fields full of vegetables. All Tierney could do was watch the water get closer and closer, he says.

Lexington, Nebraska, is just one of the many rural communities that has long dealt with food insecurity, but the global pandemic both intensified need in the town of 11,000 residents and presented new challenges in getting people food. 

 

Ja Nelle Pleasure never used to think twice about putting food on the table for her family.

 

The number of families experiencing food insecurity has hit a record due to the pandemic, and Black and Hispanic families are disproportionately affected.

 

Growing up in southern Indiana, Karen Pepmeier and her friends would comb the farm fields during harvest season, gathering leftover ears of corn to raise money for their youth group.

“You hate to see it lay in the field and rot,” Pepmeier said. “If you grow up in one of these areas, you're very familiar with the waste that occurs there.”

COVID-19 has caused disruptions in how families get their food. That’s one reason why more people are growing their own. 

The concept of a victory garden dates to the Second World War. Food was in high demand, and canned food was rationed for the war effort. Sarah Vogel is an educator at the University of Illinois Extension. She said the federal government encouraged citizens to grow their own food and provided lots of information on how to do so.

Galesburg Community Responds to Hunger

Jun 16, 2020
Debbie Moreno

Food insecurity in Galesburg was already a problem before COVID-19 shut down schools in mid-March. So when Governor J.B. Pritzker issued stay-at-home orders three months ago, Knox County United Way director Laun Dunn knew her organization had to act fast. 

Rich Egger

The Knox Prairie Community Kitchen (KPCK) provides free community dinners twice a month in Galesburg.  The dinners will continue but beginning in July 2018 they will be held at a new location: the First Baptist Church of Galesburg at 169 South Cherry Street.