|Anti-hunger advocates rallied at the State Capitol on Lobby Day.|
A throng of more than 300 anti-hunger advocates in green shirts chanted “end hunger now!” as they marched up the steps of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 1. The group of advocates, participants in the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s annual Lobby Day, had one mission: to make sure lawmakers knew that no one – especially children – should go hungry in Illinois.
“I came to Springfield to advocate for the voices that can’t be heard,” said Theodore Schroeder, an advocate from Circle Urban Ministries. “I want to be the voice of the child who’s sitting at home with a grumbling stomach, so we can make sure not one child goes hungry this summer. Every voice makes a difference.”
After a rally in the Capitol Rotunda, advocates visited more than 80 lawmaker offices in just three hours. They asked for support of SR 1115/HR 1047 to improve children’s access to summer meals, and suggested legislators visit child nutrition sites in their districts.
“Many parents and grandparents come to our pantry because they can’t feed their children,” said Carol Thomas, of Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Morgan Park. “With summer coming up, it’s going to be even more difficult for these families to keep their children fed.”
Raising awareness of summer programs and supporting access to summer meals is critically important. During summer break, children lose two meals per day they would otherwise be receiving at school. According to the USDA, only 11.5 percent of the children who receive free and reduced price meals during the school year utilize summer feeding programs.
The day prior to the rally, advocates attended the Illinois Commission to End Hunger Summit, which included updates on the Commission’s work, a keynote speech from David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and various educational breakout sessions.
For Amber Duerwaechter, a Community Services Coordinator at the Food Depository who went to Springfield for the first time, the experience was about building coalition with other organizations across the state.
“The sessions were incredibly energizing,” she said. “It was rewarding to see all the agencies coming together to create a community.”
Visit the Food Depository’s Flickr page to see photos taken by the advocates of the Hunger Summit and Lobby Day. And, watch a short video recap of Lobby Day below.