The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 15, 2013

Fill shelves at food banks

The Commercial-News

---- — Officials at three of Danville’s largest food banks — The Salvation Army, Danville Area Food Pantry and St. James United Methodist Church — report in today’s story they see an increased demand for their help.

All three food banks say the need has increased during the past year, reflecting the national economy and the difficulty some local residents face when trying to find a job. While local job openings exist, many of them require specific skills or education that not everyone has had the chance to acquire.

The demand for food assistance can be particularly high during this time of the year. Seasonal jobs can disappear for the winter, and the holidays put additional pressure on families’ budgets. Charles Dickens — whose own father was sent to a debtors’ prison — pointed this out in 1843 in “A Christmas Carol.”

Sadly, 170 years later, society continues to struggle with how to most effectively help those in need.

However, individuals can step up and make contributions. Donations of food — non-perishable items, obviously, can help the most — and money will allow local organizations to ensure local families enjoy a bountiful Christmas dinner. Most of the organizations take steps to be sure those requesting assistance truly need the help.

The plight of families facing food shortages usually comes to the forefront this time of the year, but the problem continues year-around. Schools now offer breakfasts in addition to lunches, and local Backpack Programs — where organizations send backpacks full of food home with students for the weekend — continue to expand.

This is an area where state lawmakers need to take a long look to see where assistance might be directed. The number of dollars handed out for programs and projects that serve no substantial purpose could go a long way to help feed hungry families.

Until that comes about, however, the rest of us have to help fill the void. Contribute to a local food bank, and make Christmas merrier for a neighbor.