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Hunger Levels Rise for IL Families as Holidays Approach

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People in one in ten Illinois households with children say they "aren't at all confident" they'll be able to afford enough food in the next four weeks. (David Pereiras/Adobe Stock)
People in one in ten Illinois households with children say they "aren't at all confident" they'll be able to afford enough food in the next four weeks. (David Pereiras/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
November 25, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The pandemic is causing massive hardships for Illinois families heading into the holidays.

The latest Census Bureau survey finds 56% of households with children said they're "not very confident" they'll be able to afford enough food for the next four weeks.

This disturbing figure includes 10% of households who describe themselves as "not at all confident" they'll be able to afford meals.

Joseph Llobrera, director of research for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said a lack of food can have long-term impacts on children's mental and physical development.

"They don't have enough food, they're less able to focus in school, perform less well in school - lower graduation rates in high school," said Llobrera. "And then, that impacts the ability to get good, well-paying jobs down the line."

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates between 7 and 11 million children across the country live in households that didn't eat enough in the past week because they couldn't afford it.

Llobrera noted communities of color are struggling at disproportionate rates.

"Black and Latinx adults, the share that report food hardship is on the order of twice that of white adults," said Llobrera.

Llobrera said there's a lot that Congress can do to alleviate food insecurity for families.

One option is to increase the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or "SNAP" maximum benefits for families most in need. He pointed out that benefits were increased after the Great Recession - but not in the CARES Act earlier this year.

"We need Congress to step in and act boldly to help people in this incredible time of need," said Llobrera. "Because it really is off the charts when you look at many of these measures of hardship. This eight, nine months that we've been through is unlike anything we've seen before."

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