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Illinois' Food Insecurity Numbers Remain High

President Donald Trump's budget proposals have included cuts to federal nutrition programs. (ilhunger.org)
President Donald Trump's budget proposals have included cuts to federal nutrition programs. (ilhunger.org)
October 2, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Even though there have been improvements in the economy since the Great Recession, 13 percent of Illinois residents are still living in poverty, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data, and 512,000 of them are children.

The overall cost of living, including housing and taxes, has risen steadily, yet Illinois' minimum wage has remained stagnant, with Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoing a plan this summer to increase it to $15 an hour.

Diane Doherty, executive director of the Illinois Hunger Coalition, says too many people in the state don't have enough to eat – and it isn't because they're out of work.

"They're not in jobs where their wages are adequate enough, so one of 11 people in the state of Illinois that are working participate in the SNAP program,” she explains. “That continues to be way too high."

Doherty says threats by the Trump administration to cut federal nutrition programs such as SNAP will send more people into poverty if they become reality, and food banks across the state are already stretched thin trying to meet the high need.

Doherty points out many parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet for their families, and older folks who should be enjoying retirement are forced to continue working.

"It just seems so unfair to me that people that have worked all their lives or they've raised their families – they've contributed so much to their communities, veterans who served their countries, put their lives on the line – and they're still suffering from hunger," she laments.

The Census Bureau report also found nearly 7 percent of Illinois residents don't have health insurance.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL