The Public Square

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

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

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