Illinois 4-H Members Join the Fight Against Hunger
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2014
members are used to pledging their "health to better living," but a state
initiative has members battling a new health threat; local hunger.
closer to home than many people realize, said Bill Million, University of
Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist. "According to a 2011
report published by Feeding America, Illinois ranks 26th in the
nation when it comes to the number of children facing food insecurity.
"One in five
children faces hunger and food security on a recurring basis," Million said, accounting
for 23 percent of all Illinois youth under the age of 18.
Illinois 4-H launched the 4-H Feeding and Growing Our Communities pilot
initiative, with more than 1,500 youth and adult volunteers dedicating 12,250
hours to various hunger-related projects across the state.
Rock Island, Sangamon, Boone, Ogle, Dekalb, and St. Clair counties, in
cooperation with Illini Fighting Hunger, packaged more than 63,000 meals which
were distributed to local food banks and pantries.
members harvested more than 4,000 pounds of fresh produce in community gardens
around the state. Members of Hamilton County's 4-H Teen GIFT Garden 4-H Club
cared for a large garden and then sponsored cooking classes where kids learned
about growing vegetables, washing and preserving produce and proper food safety
procedures from production to consumption.
Federation club members at the Community Gardens in historic Waterloo were
surprised to learn that senior citizens struggle to afford to eat fresh
produce, Million said, so they took produce to the Senior Center and Assisted
Living centers in Waterloo.
program has truly made a difference within the Springfield community," said 4-H
Youth Development Educator Erica Austin. "Community members took ownership of
the garden just like it was their very own.
of our gardens also speak volumes to what 4-H was trying to do," Austin said.
"'Harambee' in Swahili means 'let's pull together,' and the community did just
that to create a beautiful garden."
members began to understand the problem of hunger, they began to expand their
programs, Million said. Rock Island youth are now serving meals to the hungry
and assisting at food pantries, and in McLean County, 4-H members provided more
than 400 snack packs to help feed children on the weekends with nutritious
meals they can take home from school in their backpacks.
additional funding from the Illinois 4-H Foundation, Illinois 4-H club members
are ramping up their anti-hunger program by engaging 4-H members, volunteers, families and whole
communities in joining forces to be part of the solution for alleviating hunger
within Illinois communities, Million said.
groups can work with 4-H members in their community, or form new clubs geared
solely around hunger issues. Some activities groups may wish to complete
Establishing a community 4-H garden where
members grow fresh vegetables to be given to local food pantries, soup
kitchens, or shelters serving individuals in need.
Encouraging 4-H members enrolled in vegetable
gardening or gardening enthusiasts to Plant
a Row for the Hungry and donate their extra produce to local food pantries,
churches, and other organizations serving families facing food insecurity.
Conducting a canned food drive to support a
local food pantry.
Organizing a group of 4-H Teen Hunger
Ambassadors to learn about hunger in their community and develop a plan to
contribute to its decline.
Organizing a food packaging event where
volunteers assemble pre-packaged meals to be distributed through food pantries
with in their county.
Sponsoring a booth in a grocery or other retail
stores heightening the awareness of hunger in the local community and collecting
non-perishable food donations to support local food pantries and soup kitchens
and other meal sites
Partner with local organizations in providing a
summer lunch program where one or more 4-H clubs sponsors a day or a whole week.
One may contact Million at 217-333-0910 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
for more information.
4-H: Illinois 4-H strives to help youth learn skills for living. University
of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois.
Illinois 4-H aims to impact the lives of 200,000 youth each year through
sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.
Further Information Contact:
Bill Million, University of Illinois
Extension Specialist, 4-H and Youth Development, 271-333-0910
Writer: Judy Mae Bingman, Media and &
Communications Specialist, 217-300-2113
Source: William J. Million, Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development, email@example.com