The Public Square

WILL - The Public Square - September 24, 2010

Cheryl Precious on the 2010 Hunger Symposium, sponsored by Illinois Public Media and the Eastern Ill

Right now in eastern Illinois, one in six kids is wondering if there will be food at home tonight.

If you really stop and think about that, its hard to believe. Imagine six kids you know. Who could be your one in six?

Though its often hidden from view in our community, hunger is very real for thousands of children living right here in eastern Illinois. It takes many forms, from a boy getting in trouble for rushing the lunch line at school, to a mom quietly skipping a meal so her daughter can eat.

Indeed, in the fourteen counties that make up the Eastern Illinois Foodbanks service area, more than nineteen thousand kids live in poverty. Many more than that are believed to live in food insecure households.

Meanwhile, there are a number of programs and services, both public and private, that are working to eradicate childhood hunger. There are government-subsidized programs like WIC, the Emergency Food Program, SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), and the national school lunch and breakfast programs. Then, there are the collective efforts of a vast network of private nonprofits like food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after school programs, and dozens of other agencies serving kids.

Is this just redundancy? Or is it a strategic, multi-lateral approach to a problem thats bigger than any singular solution? The answer may be a little of both. But over the years it has become painfully apparent that getting kids fed is going to require the collaborative efforts of many.

We invite you to engage in a conversation about this big and troubling issue. At the end of this month, Illinois Public Media and the Eastern Illinois Foodbank are once again teaming up to bring you the 2010 Hunger Symposium, this year with a focus on childhood hunger. Five expert panelists will discuss the impact of childhood hunger on our kids and our communities, and will help us identify our best potential solutions.

The Symposium will be held at Illinois Terminal on Monday, September twenty-seventh at six thirty pm. All are invited and welcome to attend.

For more information, please visit the Eastern Illinois Foodbanks website at

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WILL - The Public Square - September 17, 2010

Gary Storm on Initiatives of Change International, an NGO promoting peace between Israel and Palesti

My name is Gary Storm. I am a resident of Urbana and a member of the Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative.

Over the past summer, Rajmohan Ghandi, a human rights and peace activist and Research Professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies here at UIUC, traveled to the West Bank and Israel. He did so as President of Initiatives of Change International, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. His purpose was to learn more about local efforts to employ non-violent means for achieving peace in the area and to promote such approaches among both Palestinians and Israelis. As the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi and a life long student of non-violence, Rajmohan seemed just the right person for these tasks.

When the Urbana-Champaign Peace Initiative, a new group promoting community education, learned of Professor Ghandis trip, it approached him about sharing his experiences with the UC community upon his return. He agreed to do so, and a program has been scheduled this coming Sunday afternoon at 2:30 in the Champaign Public Library. It is being called, The Role of Non-Violence in Palestinian-Israeli Relations: A Conversation with Rajmohan Ghandi.

As it turns out, the timing of this Conversation could not have been more fortuitous. Not only are diplomatic efforts currently underway to promote direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, but the United Nations annual International Day of Peace is September 21, two days after the Library program. As a result, the UC Peace Initiative hopes to build upon energy and ideas generated by the conversation with Professor Ghandi and host a second meeting on Peace Day where proposals for follow-up activities can identified and later pursued. Details about this follow-up meeting will be given at the close of the Library session.

In an article in the New York Times last spring just before Professor Ghandis trip, Ethan Bronner wrote, Something is stirring in the West Bank. With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor for failing to end the Israeli occupation, a third way was emerging, one that was avoiding violence. Please come to the Champaign Public Library this Sunday at 2:30 to learn more about and to discuss the potential of this third, non-violent, way of working toward peace in the Middle East. Thank you.

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