Almost 18 million U.S. households had difficulty providing food for their families last year, according to a new study — and local agencies say families in Cook County are no exception.
The new U.S. Department of Agriculture study says about 15 percent of households across the country are considered food insecure — a number that hasn’t changed much since 2008.
"What we can say is that we aren’t making the headway that we need to make," said Doug Schenkelberg, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach of the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Schenkelberg says this past year, they’ve had more visits to their food pantries than ever before, and they've seen a 68% jump in visits since 2008.
And by their numbers, the need is widespread: The agency found last spring that one in six Cook County residents aren’t getting the food they need.
David Ericson has worked at the Franciscan Outreach Association in Chicago for the last three years. He says there are people traveling up to five miles to get to their soup kitchen.
"The North side seems to be pretty stocked with soup kitchens, shelters and social services that people need. So people from the West Side and South side have to start, you know, moving towards the North side to get services they want," he said.
Ericson says more resources are needed in blighted areas.