Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ending Hunger in Illinois

An Effort to End Hunger in Illinois 
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1,532,238 people, including 500,000 children, now live in poverty in Illinois. Living in poverty means that in many cases, a major concern for families is how to provide sufficient amounts of food for survival. There are currently 8 food banks located throughout Illinois that serve an estimated 1 million people a year. In the past two years, there has been a 50 percent increase in the amount of people that require emergency hunger relief help. In an effort to help with this growing problem, Senate Bill 3158 created and sponsored by Senator Don Harmon establishes a Commission to End Hunger. In early March 2011, Governor Pat Quinn announced that 22 individuals will be appointed to the commission.
The individuals appointed come from a wide variety of not-for-profit programs. There are both Democratic and Republican representatives who have agreed to work together for the greater good of Illinoisans. There are representatives that range from different food pantries to minority groups to AIDS foundations and even a representative from Kraft foods. Since hunger is not limited to one group of people, it makes sense that so many programs are interested in helping to fight the problem that affects so many people in Illinois.
With Illinois being in a heated debate over how to cut funds to rectify the extreme debt the state is in, this program is a breath of fresh air in that it will focus on helping the needy without using anymore state funds. An article published by Don Harmon’s staff on his website states that “an amendment explicitly states that DHS [Department of Health Services] and the State of Illinois will not incur any costs because meeting coordination, reports, and other duties will be completed by a food bank representative who will serve as co-chair of the Commission” (Harmon staff).  In fact, one goal of the program is to research how to receive an estimated 42 million dollars in federal funds from the government to avoid putting the state in any more debt.
Although there are already programs in place that are focused on providing food for children, the focal point of the Commission to End Hunger revolves around educating individuals on what programs are available to them. In addition, the commission will spend time coordinating opportunities for individuals to participate in programs available to them. A final responsibility for individuals working with the commission will be to research what other sources are available to fund programs that are fighting hunger.
Senator Harmon is focused on making sure that this is not another program that is established and then forgotten. In his proposal, he states that the members of the commission will gather approximately every two years to reevaluate the progress made or determine what changes need to be made.
This program could potentially help the 1,532,238 people mentioned at the start of this article. If all goes as planned, with the help of Senator Harmon’s proposal, we will be on our way to having an exceptionally less hungry state. 

No comments: