WILL COUNTY, IL — When you look around Will County, it's easy to see the effects the coronavirus has had on our way of life. What's less visible is the number of people who are now worrying about having enough to eat.
Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization, says coronavirus-related economic crises could push the number of food insecure Americans to 54 million by year's end. That's 17 million more Americans than who were food insecure before the pandemic. For some, it's a matter of running short on grocery money before the week is out and eating a lot of boxed pasta and rice dishes.
For others, food insecurity means real hunger.
In Will County, 42,120 people, or 6.1 percent of the county's population, were considered food insecure before the pandemic, according to Feeding America's "Map the Meal Gap" interactive study.
Job loss and other economic crises associated with the coronavirus could push the rate of food insecurity in Will County to 11.2 percent by the end of the year.
Feeding America, whose 200 member food banks include the Greater Chicago Food Depository in Chicago, reports both higher demand for services and more need for volunteer and donor support.
Some food pantries and other services available in Will County are:
4KIDS Sake Food Pantry, 192 Lily Cache Lane, Bolingbrook
Community Care Center, 112 S. Center St., Braidwood
Living Manna Food Ministry, 25124 S. Fryer St., Channahon
Family Outreach Program, Inc., 1701 N. Larkin Ave., Crest Hill
Unity Kitchen, 1500 S. Sangamon St., Crete
Frankfort Township, 11000 W. Lincoln Highway, Frankfort
Peace Community Church, 21300 S. La Grange Road, Frankfort
Blessing Bench Pantry, 55 W. Benton St., Joliet
Christ Temple Food Pantry, 212 Richards St., Joliet
Daybreak Shepherd's Table, 611 E. Cass St., Joliet
Fellowship Bible, 122 Morris St., Joliet
Forest Park Community Center, 1017 Woodruff Road, Joliet
Glory Tabernacle, 459 N. Ottawa St., Joliet
HEAL Riverwalk Food Pantry, 350 N. Broadway, Joliet
Lebanon Dist. Laymen Ministry, 402 Singleton Place, Joliet
Life Line Food Pantry, 100 McDonough St., Joliet
Life Spring/Iglesia Bethany Church Pantry, 1000 Hacker Ave., Joliet
Lively Hope Church of God, 308 N. Midland, Joliet
Morningstar Mission, 350 E. Washington St., Joliet
New Testament Fellowship, 515 N. Scott, Joliet
Ridgewood United Community Pantry, 301 Fairbanks Ave., Joliet
Sacred Heart - Family Table Soup Kitchen, 329 S. Ottawa St., Joliet
Salvation Army Joliet, 300 Third Ave., Joliet
Second Baptist Food Pantry, 156 S. Joliet St., Joliet
Soul Food Pantry, 2800 Black Road, Joliet
Spanish Community Center, 309 N. Eastern Ave., Joliet
St. John Lutheran Church, 2650 Plainfield Road, Joliet
St. John the Baptist Food Pantry, 260 Division St., Joliet
St. Patrick's Food Pantry, 710 W. Marion St., Joliet
Warren Sharpe Community Center, 454 S. Joliet St., Joliet
Will County Baptist Temple, 625 McDonough St., Joliet
Fairmont Food Pantry, 525 Barry Ave., Lockport
First Baptist Church Pantry, 800 Thornton, Lockport
Lockport FISH Food Pantry, 604 E. Ninth St., Lockport
Shiloh Baptist Church Food Pantry, 18101 W. Oak Ave., Lockport
Christ's Mission Church, 22811 S. Cedar Road, Manhattan
Minooka Bible Church, 412 N. Wabena Ave., Minooka
Action: Love Pantry, 6370 Emerald Parkway, Monee
Faith Baptist Church, 25800 S. Center Road, Monee
Jackson Creek Fellowship Church, 25800 S. Center Road, Monee
St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, Monee
Cornerstone Church of LW - Manna Food Ministry, 1501 S. Gougar Road, New Lenox
New Lenox Township Food Pantry, 1100 S. Cedar Road, New Lenox
New Life Church, 500 S. Gougar Road, New Lenox
Helping Hands, 200 W. Crawford, Peotone
Plainfield Area Interfaith Food Pantry, 22525 W. Lockport St., Plainfield
Green Harvest Food Pantry, 25448 W. Ruff St.
Dupage Township, 241 Canterbury, Romeoville
Love Fellowship Baptist Church, 730 N. Independence Blvd., Romeoville
Romeoville Community Pantry, 2 Belmont Drive, Romeoville
We Care of Romeoville, 219 Arlington Drive, Romeoville
Restoration Christian Church, 114 Channahon St., Shorewood
Faith Movers Church, 425 W. Exchange St., University Park
Kuzma Care Cottage, 635 S. Main St., Wilmington
Food insecurity is often thought of as a “poor people’s problem,” but not all people living in poverty are food insecure, and not all food insecure people live in poverty. Food insecurity is a complex issue sandwiched in with other systemic challenges, including poverty, low wages, affordable housing shortages, chronic and acute health problems, high medical costs and social isolation.
“Our members are reporting that many of the people they’re serving have never sought food assistance before,” Kathryn Strickland, Feeding America’s chief network officer, told Patch. “Some people are reporting that people who formerly donated to food banks are now seeking assistance.
Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2020, more than 54 million Americans will not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.