Feeding Illinois is the Association of eight Feeding America food banks that serve all 102 counties in Illinois. Its purpose is to coordinate and support the collective, collaborative efforts of our food banks and community partners in providing access to a healthy, adequate supply of food for those in need.
Originally formed as the Illinois Food Bank Association (IFBA), the first meeting took place in October 1998. The original mission was three-fold: (1) to educate the public about food banks - what they do and how they address hunger; (2) raise the public's awareness about the widespread reality of hunger throughout Illinois; and (3) collaborate efforts and resources as a unified body to share ideas, develop strategies, and find solutions in the fight against hunger. The member food banks are all part of the Feeding America Network of 200 food banks that serve all 50 states and Puerto Rico; which collectively is the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Incorporated in 2002, the Association’s Board is comprised of the food banks’ Executive Directors, who elect in sharing the responsibilities of the three designated officers of President, Secretary and Treasurer. Following America’s Second Harvest rebranding into Feeding America in 2008, IFBA similarly changed its name to Feeding Illinois. In 2010, the Association hired its first Director to spearhead and expand the Association’s efforts into advocacy, food procurement, and sustainable funding.
n sharing the responsibilities of the three designated officers of President, Secretary and Treasurer. Following America’s Second Harvest rebranding into Feeding America in 2008, IFBA similarly changed its name to Feeding Illinois. In 2010, the Association hired its first Director to spearhead and expand the Association’s efforts into advocacy, food procurement, and sustainable funding.
Today, Feeding Illinois focuses most of its efforts around three primary areas:
FOOD: Feeding Illinois’ current work plan places a heightened emphasis on outright procuring or assisting the food banks in acquiring more food for distribution to their local agencies - food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, etc. - or in their more specialized programs. This is the core business of the food banks, and thus a logical priority. Our concentration is on the agricultural industry in Illinois, with the hope of 1) establishing a sustained surplus recovery program that provides a stable supply of locally-grown or processed produce and protein for the food banks, 2) supporting the contributing stakeholders and in turn the state’s economy, and 3) reducing our overall carbon footprint thru less dependence on out-of-state shipments.
SNAP: Feeding Illinois is a primary contractual agency for SNAP outreach in Illinois. Feeding Illinois food banks are unusually well-positioned to address the problem of under-enrollment among eligible Illinoisans. Through our network of over 2,400 agencies and programs, we have a captive audience to whom assistance - and education - can be easily offered to the eligible, needy residents of our State. Feeding Illinois food banks continue to play a significant role in nearly 1.8 million Illinoisans being enrolled in SNAP. Per the USDA, that’s 13.8% of the population - a higher share than in any neighboring state. While food stamp participation has seen an encouraging decrease, lagging economic growth leaves Illinois ranked highest among neighboring states in SNAP enrollment.
ADVOCACY: As part of Feeding America, but with no political partisanship, Feeding Illinois participates in and supports the advocacy efforts and legislation that impact our Association’s and Network’s mission. Every foodbank is also actively building relationships and advocating with local legislators, committees, and partner organizations. Most recently, Feeding Illinois, Feeding America and our allies united to campaign and preserve key components of the Farm Bill that protected not only the embedded food assistance programs but also individuals’ and families’ eligibility for those programs.
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