Monday, Dec 9, 2013
Sack Hunger: West Frankfort at Carterville
WSIL -- News 3 is wrapping up another successful season of Sack Hunger food drives this Friday night in Carterville as the Lions' play West Frankfort.
Southern Illinois has been incredibly generous this fall. We've collected more than 25,000 food items so far this season and would like to reach 30,000 Friday night.
Both of the pantries we're helping this week are seeing record need in their communities.
"This year is absolutely so high, I just can't believe it," said Lauren Hand, Food Pantry Coordinator at Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort.
Last month Hand's pantry helped feed 740 families.
"I get probably 15 new families every week," she explained.
It's a troubling trend she fears may be the new normal. High unemployment continues to plague Southern Illinois; Franklin County lost hundreds of jobs in the last year alone.
"Most of them are on a fixed income, and they don't get the Link that they used to get," Hand said, "A lot of them say it's been cut down."
The increase in patrons means Hand has to stretch the food to fill more bags. Donations are down, and commodities provided by the government are limited. Last week Crosswalk received only cranberry juice and mashed potatoes.
"This probably has been the worst month that we have seen. I mean just absolutely not getting anything from the USDA," said Hand.
It's a struggle shared by the Carterville Community United Pantry Food Chair Lorri Clendenin says the number of patrons has more than doubled this year. In just the first half of October, she fed over 200 families.
Clendenin aims to fill the boxes she distributes with enough food for at least five, solid meals and give families some variety.
"Spaghetti, this will feed you for two days. Or if you want to go to chili mac, you know you got it there for chili mac," she said, "If you want to go to tuna casserole, you got it here."
She credits the Carterville community's generosity for keeping the pantry afloat.
Both food banks want to help News 3 finish our Sack Hunger campaign strong. They're issuing a call to action for fans coming to Friday's game.
"Come on guys, this is an itty bitty town," said Clendenin, "Fill up that truck!"
"Any donation at all is absolutely a huge help. And we do appreciate that," said Hand.
As we've done all season, the pantry that collects the most donations this week will get an additional $500 from our partners at Black Diamond Harley Davidson. Please come out and help us Sack Hunger in Southern Illinois one last time this fall.
Wind: 5 MPH
Humidity: 86 %