Chicago-Area Food Pantries Sees Surge in Demand Amid Lack of Donations

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Chicago-area food pantries are experiencing a surge in demand and fewer donations as inflation and supply chain issues send the cost of food soaring, according to food bank and food pantry executives.

The Northern Illinois Food Bank, based in Geneva, said it serves 400,000 individuals a month and has seen demand jump 30% compared to last year.

“We are paying on average fifteen cents more per pound than we did just a year ago,” said President and CEO Julie Yurko. “Our budget for purchased food has also tripled because we need to bring in more food due to a decline in donations coming to us.”

Meanwhile, West Suburban Community Pantry in Woodridge said it lost 2,000 pounds of food earlier this week after an electrical outage damaged its freezer and refrigeration units.

“Honestly, it’s the worst timing that it could be because our demand has increased significantly. We’re serving about 40% more people right now, 40% more families, than we were just a month ago because of increased food prices, increased gas prices,” said Executive Director Laura Coyle.

West Suburban Community Pantry will be closed to shoppers until next Thursday while $30,000 worth of repairs are made.

“We want to make sure that when they use their precious resources that we can give them everything they need and we just can’t do that right now,” Coyle said. “It wasn’t responsible for us to stay open.”

The West Suburban Community Pantry said its Virtual Food pantry continues to offer the option to order groceries online and pick them up at a number of locations in the area. You can learn more at .

The Northern Illinois Food Bank said if you need help with food, go to .

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