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Hall Township Food Pantry plans Easter outreach

Martin: ‘Our neighbors are hungry’

SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Township Food Pantry is asking for help to make its annual Easter dinner basket distribution a reality.

Director Jan Martin said the goal is to provide the ingredients for a nutritious and delicious Easter dinner to each family who are currently patrons of the food pantry. She has estimated 325 families will need Easter dinner baskets this year, with each dinner basket to cost an estimated $35 to fill.

Sponsorships and donations are needed to help make the Easter dinner baskets a reality, Martin said. The baskets will be distributed April 16. Only patrons registered at the Hall Township Food Pantry by April 15 will receive the baskets.

The food pantry did receive more than 300 empty Easter candy baskets from the Andy Rice family in Peru, who run the Brandy’s store, to help with the Easter dinner basket project, Martin said. She does have an assortment of candy to fill those baskets but is looking for more candy to add to the baskets, providing one per family. The candy baskets are an addition to the Easter dinner baskets, she said.

Looking at the problem of hunger not just nationally, but also locally, Martin said most people living in the United States, known as the “land of plenty,” think about hunger as being a problem in a third-world country. However, the truth is hunger is a huge problem everywhere in the United States, but it’s not always easy to see, she said.

Research shows 50 million Americans struggle to find their next meal, Martin said. It’s a sad thing to discover hunger is happening in our neighborhoods, she added.

What does hunger look like? Martin said it is your father-in-law who just got laid off and now struggles to pay his mortgage and put food on the table. It is your elderly neighbor who must choose between buying groceries and heating her home. It is your child’s classmate who goes to school each day without lunch and is too embarrassed to ask for help, she said.

Located at 500 N. Terry St., the Hall Township Food Pantry serves residents of eastern Bureau County, specifically those living in Arlington, Bureau, Cherry, Dalzell, DePue, Hollowayville, Ladd, Seatonvile and Spring Valley. According to the latest census, the population of the food pantry’s giving area is currently 10,500 people, and the food pantry serves about 1,000 people each month, she said.

“That is nearly 1 in 11 people who need our help. This is a bit below the national average – but far from acceptable,” Martin said.

The breakdown of those who frequent the Hall Township Food Pantry shows that more than 40 percent are children, and another 32 percent senior citizens, Martin said. There are also a number of patrons on disability, and the remainder of the patrons are either unemployed or underemployed.

“Hunger is a fact. Our neighbors are hungry, and the Hall Township Food Pantry is their lifeline,” Martin said.

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