Gov. Pat Quinn announced a $4.48 million investment Wednesday to help eight regional Feeding Illinois food banks and their network of food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters better serve more than 1.9 million residents.
The investment will provide a 21st century digital infrastructure in each of the state’s food banks and with the 1,885 member agencies they support to more quickly deliver emergency food assistance to those who need it the most.
“Our food banks provide critical support to nearly 2 million residents each year,” Quinn said. “This investment puts more focus on providing food to those in need. As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals the next few days, I encourage everyone in Illinois to remember their neighbors and donate to their local food banks to further our goal of ending hunger.”
The state investment from Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program will improve efficiency and lower costs of services by purchasing software, computer equipment, tablets and Internet access, allowing hunger relief agencies and food banks to collect the signatures required for food bank network users statewide. Currently these signed “declarations of eligibility” required for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) generate millions of sheets of paper and force staff to spend thousands of hours tracking paperwork and collecting signatures. The eight regional food banks will invest $544,000 to train staff on the new digital sign-in and record-keeping system. The new system follows a 2013 Illinois Commission to End Hunger recommendation to streamline the client signature process.
The eight Feeding Illinois member food banks include the Central Illinois Foodbank, Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Peoria Area Food Bank, River Bend Foodbank, St. Louis Area Foodbank and Tri-State Food Bank.