Photos and story by Steve Warmowski
The one millionth meal by a 4-H program to feed families in need was packaged by volunteers Wednesday evening at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Jacksonville. The state-wide program to help feed the needy started in 2013, with 4-H members and others packaging the meals. Volunteers from Cass, Morgan, Scott, Greene and Calhoun were on hand to put together meals Wednesday. The 31st box of the night pushed the program past the one million meal mark.
More than 75 volunteers helped Wednesday. Local 4-H groups raised more than $1,500 to purchase the ingredients, with an additional $1,500 grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation and Evelyn Brandt Thomas.
One in five Illinois children experience hunger weekly. More than 270,000 Illinoisans live in food deserts. Access to heathy food has a major impact on overall health and well-being of individuals and families. – Source: U of I Extension
Rates of food insecurity (experience hunger weekly)
12.8% Greene County
12.7% Morgan County
11.7% Scott County
11.5% Calhoun County
8.8% Cass County
Source: Feeding America
14.3% Morgan County
14.2% Scott County
12.9% Cass County
17.1% Greene County
12.6% Calhoun County
Source: Data USA
Illinois 4-H members are building food-secure communities through mobile food markets, meal-packaging events, backpack food programs, community meals and community gardens.
27% of the 12,779 youth in Cass, Morgan, Scott, Greene and Calhoun counties are involved in the 4-H program (3,387 youth)