The site states the living wage is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support his or her family if he or she is the sole provider and is working full-time, or 2,080 hours per year.
The site was implemented by a faculty member and student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Notes on the site indicate its last update was June 2012.
Brooks also said more seniors are using the food pantry, too, because their kids and grandkids are moving back in with them.
Johnson said her son had to move back in with them for a time. Her son lost his job even before her husband lost his.
Without the local resources, making it through tough times would have been hard for her family.
“The food pantries were a godsend,” Johnson said. “We were receiving unemployment, but that was our only income, and it didn’t last through the end of the month.”
Johnson said she used to consider herself middle class. That was before her husband was laid off without warning in 2010. He had been the sole income provider. Finding out where to go next wasn’t easy.
“I didn’t know what services were available to those who were laid off,” Johnson said. “It’s not that easy a task to do unless you’re in the system.” Johnson said the unemployment office didn’t provide a list of area food pantries, and she had to go to The Salvation Army to get one.
Johnson also said many times she found out about different community services by talking to others in the food pantry line.
Carol Olson, director of the St. James pantry, said the St. James Food Pantry actually makes a direct effort to connect pantry-goers with community resources. The pantry allows agencies such as the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency access to the pantry crowd.