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Chicago’s Rising Food Insecurity: A Challenge for the Community Amid Inflation and Reduced Assistance

PRESS RELEASE: September 23, 2023

In Chicago, a growing crisis is unfolding as more families find themselves struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising food insecurity. With inflation escalating and the expiration of federal pandemic assistance, food pantries and distributors across the city are witnessing a significant spike in the number of people in need. This situation is a stark reflection of the broader economic challenges impacting the community.

Englewood resident Debra Davis, who recently picked up groceries at Ephphatha Lutheran Church through a partnership with Nourishing Hope and Reunited Chatham, exemplifies the struggles many are facing. Like Davis, numerous Chicagoans are finding it increasingly challenging to balance the cost of food with other essential bills, particularly when supporting unemployed dependents.

Nourishing Hope, formerly known as Lakeview Pantry, has reported a 76% increase in families with children seeking their services compared to last year. Keenya Lambert, the chief development officer at Nourishing Hope, points out that the withdrawal of federal investments has had a devastating impact on the community. The consumer price index, a key indicator of inflation, rose 0.6% in August, marking its biggest monthly gain of 2023, and directly affecting food prices.

In response to this escalating need, community initiatives like Dion’s Chicago Dream, founded by Dion Dawson, have been delivering a week’s worth of groceries to over 1,000 households in 40 different neighborhoods each week since the onset of COVID. Dawson describes the current need as “staggering,” with the waitlist for their delivery program doubling in recent months.

The challenges extend beyond inflation, particularly for many South and West side Chicagoans who face additional hurdles due to the lack of grocery options in their communities. This scarcity exacerbates food insecurity struggles, as residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious food options. Ayesha Jaco, executive director at West Side United, highlights the disparities in grocery options, academic standing of schools, and housing stock between downtown and West Side Chicago. Her organization, along with others, is working to provide resources and support to organizers addressing these issues.

The Great Chicago Food Depository reports that currently, one in four children in Chicago is at risk of food insecurity, underscoring the urgency of addressing the issue, particularly as it affects the most vulnerable members of the community. The rising food insecurity in Chicago, exacerbated by inflation and the reduction in federal assistance, presents a significant challenge for the community. Local organizations and initiatives are stepping up to meet the growing demand, but the situation underscores the need for broader support and sustainable solutions. As families across the city face the daily struggle of securing enough food, the importance of community action and policy intervention becomes increasingly clear.

Chicago’s Rising Food Insecurity: A Challenge for the Community Amid Inflation and Reduced Assistance
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