Hunger Facts

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 About Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities believes that access to adequate, affordable and nutritious food is a basic human right. Freedom from hunger is a prerequisite for individuals and families to live productive, healthy and dignified lives.

Today, more than 49 million Americans—one in every six—face food insecurity. Hunger affects families across the country in urban, rural and suburban communities. Barriers of access and affordability prevent low-income families from purchasing the nutritious food necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, which can have long-term negative impacts on their health, education and social wellbeing.

Catholic Charities agencies strive not only to feed the hungry for a day, but also to help them build long-term food security. They help low-income and vulnerable people access adequate and nutritious food through a range of services from pantries and soup kitchens, to healthy eating and cooking classes, to creating food stands and gardens. Committed to food for all, Catholic Charities agencies:

  • Distribute food through community food banks or pantries, many of which operate like grocery stores with a variety of food options for clients to choose from.
  • Serve meals at congregate dining sites such as soup kitchens, senior centers and summer camps. 
  • Deliver meals to home-bound seniors and effectively serve remote, rural communities. 
  • Provide food to children during out-of-school hours, including daycare and after-school meals, weekend food backpacks and summer meals.
  • Offer healthy eating initiatives including cooking and grocery shopping education programs, community gardens and medically-tailored food packages.

For more information about Catholic Charities in Chicago please visit .

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 About Hyde Park Kenwood Food Pantry

The Hyde Park Kenwood Food Pantry gives out groceries including fresh produce every Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.  A case manager is also available, and the pantry also gives away clothing and personal hygiene items as available. Serving the community since 1981, this Food Pantry is  part of the Hyde Park Kenwood Hunger Programs, a
501(c)3 organization with Hyde Park Union Church as the fiscal agent. They serve around five hundred individuals per month; roughly one third of our recipients are age 18 or younger, and nearly the same number are age 60 and above. Please visit their site for more info:

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About Top Box Foods

We are a social business, and our unique and innovative model of getting healthy and affordable grocery boxes to food-insecure neighborhoods differentiates itself from a grocery store, farmers market, and food bank. Top Box Foods is a year-round resource for affordable, nutritious fresh fruit, vegetables, and proteins for anyone and everyone who want to bring healthy food home, and help their neighbors do the same.

As a non-profit community-based organization, Top Box Foods focuses its work in food deserts to increase access to healthy and affordable food with the help of great neighborhood partners, the crucial involvement of volunteers, and generous corporate sponsors.

Top Box Foods sells high quality food for up to 40% less than retail. The bigger the Top Box Foods community grows, the more purchasing power we have, and the better savings we can offer.  Every day we grow a little stronger and are reaching out to more people to share in the benefits of saving money and eating healthy. Healthy food matters, where you live shouldn’t. More about Top Box Foods here.


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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
SNAP is the cornerstone of the nutrition safety net, providing over 45 million low-income participants with monthly benefits via a grocery debit card. Eligibility is based on household income and subject to work and citizenship requirements. SNAP has proven to be one of the most responsive, efficient safety net programs, with an accuracy rate of 96.19% in FY10. The program expands quickly to meet rising need, as demonstrated in the recent recession, and provides an efficient benefit transfer that results in $1.79 in local economic activity for each additional $1 in benefits expended. 76% of SNAP households contain a child, senior, or disabled member, and 84% of all benefits go to these households.


Veterans in Chicago Go Hungry

As the United States strives to end wars that defined the last decade, the number of veterans who come home and transition to civilian life will continue to grow. Ideally, every man and woman who served would be welcomed with plentiful opportunities for employment, health and well-being. In reality, many recent veterans will face challenges shared by those who fought before them. And while they were away to defend our freedom, economic disparity and food insecurity have grown.


Hunger in America: 2015 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts

Read that latest information from World Hunger.


Study: 1 in 5 Children At Risk of Hunger in Cook County

Nearly 800,000 people in Cook County, including one in five children, struggle to have access to healthy food and are at risk of hunger, according to a recent study.


Map the Meal Gap 2013 Documents Americans Living At Risk of Hunger in Every County in the Nation

Feeding America … released an interactive map that shows food insecurity rates across the country. The nonprofit defines a food-insecure household as one where the members are unable to consistently access the adequate amount of nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

“It wasn’t until our partnership with Feeding America that I fully understood the prevalence of hunger in America. I have spent the last decade tackling global food insecurity, but always believed the United States’ social safety net meant hunger was not a significant challenge in this country,” Howard Buffett, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, said in a press release.

“It took a number of eye-opening visits to local food banks and many conversations with people struggling to find their next meal to understand that hunger in America is a very real problem,” he said.

The groups hope that the data will help elected officials and nonprofits address hunger in the areas where it is prevalent.



Food Pantries – A Report From Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

3/7/2014 – The recession and severe cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have hit families hard and they are turning to Catholic Charities for help in greater numbers. Catholic Charities provides a variety of services and programs to help individuals and families who are finding themselves in emergency situations.

Food Pantries

Many working families are utilizing Catholic Charities food pantries when their budgets don’t stretch enough to put food on the table for their families every day. Since the SNAP benefit cuts in the fall of 2013, Catholic Charities network of food pantries have seen an overall 20% increase in clients, and that is only expected to increase. Every year more than a quarter million people rely on Catholic Charities network of food pantries throughout Cook and Lake counties. Families and individuals who have nowhere to turn and would otherwise go hungry come to Catholic Charities food pantries when they are at their neediest. Some food pantry sites also serve as Emergency Assistance Centers providing rental assistance and clothing and household items. Our food pantries contain a mix of donated food and food purchased at a discounted rate from food depositories. In addition, ready to eat food is available for those who have no access to cooking facilities. Finally, our sites offer periodic cooking demonstrations and recipes to clients, providing them with the most nutritious ways to prepare their food.


Hunger Facts

In many ways, America is the land of plenty. But for 1 in 6 people in the United States, hunger is a reality. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are struggling with hunger.  These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.



Governor Quinn Encourages People Across Illinois to Help Those in Need This Holiday Season

Governor Volunteers at New Jesse Brown Veterans Food Pantry to Prepare Holiday Meals

December 17, 2013, CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by Greater Chicago Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr to volunteer at the Jesse Brown Veterans Food Pantry and emphasize the importance of supporting Illinois food banks this holiday season and into next year.

“This pantry serves those who served our country and we are forever grateful for their sacrifice,” Governor Quinn said. “It is always a good time to support local communities and look out for our fellow neighbors. I encourage all Illinois citizens to make a difference this holiday season and throughout the year by contributing to their local food bank.”


Number Of Food Insecure People Continues To Swell In Chicago Area

CHICAGO (CBS) — We’ve seen signs the economy is improving, but a new report today reveals many people here in the Chicago area are still struggling and the number is growing.

CBS’s Jim Williams reports on the story of the group called the “food insecure.”

That group is defined as people who find it hard to buy enough food for active, healthy lives.

According to the group “Feeding America,” more than 860,000 people in Cook County alone are food insecure, 50,000 more than in 2010.

The CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository explains why we shouldn’t fooled by employment numbers.

“Increasingly, hunger in America is the story of people who have jobs. People who may have one or two jobs even in a household but they don’t have enough income to pay for all of things they need to each month and that’s when a food pantry becomes their lifeline,” said Kate Maehr.

Maehr says there’s been a 77 percent increase in the number of people turning to food pantries in the last five years.

for the families who are really struggling, things are not getting better. and I worry that we’re going to leave them behind,” said Maehr.

This is a bad trend and the Greater Chicago Food Depository says it is on pace to serve more people this fiscal year than at any other time in its history, a 34-year history.

They’re particularly worried about children, especially now because so many are out of school where they get breakfast and lunch.


Supporting Hunger Relief in Chicago for Eight Years