A group of local organizations in Knox and Warren Counties is continuing to try and figure out how to make sure no one goes hungry, and that they have the best access to locally-grown and other foods. A “food summit” was held in Galesburg yesterday, as hosted by the Galesburg Community Foundation. Representatives of local organizations along with Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard and at least one alderman, discussed in small groups things like issues the area faces in terms of what’s called “food insecurity” — defined by the USDA as having constant access to food, limited by a lack of money or other resources.
Speaking for one of those groups, Rhonda Brady says part of the problem is that the public may not really understand that there is one.
“We talked about real numbers, like the fact that the Rescue Mission served 135 families in May, or that FISH [Food Pantry] served 58 families [Monday], just from 10am-3pm,” Brady said. “Or, the large percentage of kids at the Monmouth-Roseville School District that are involved in ‘Operation Backpack,’ or how many are here [at Knox College,] taking part in ‘Blessings in a Backpack.’”
The Community Foundation’s Bobbi Pio says there are perceptions that are just plain wrong.
“People who are taking food from FISH or [Monmouth's] Jamieson Center, the perception is those people are doing it because they’re lazy, or they don’t want to work, or they’re repeat customers,” Pio said. “So, just the misperception of who the clientele is. There’s [also] some concern over the nutritional value of food that’s being distributed from all these places, and how do we educate people about nutrition.”
The groups also talked about solutions, and one may be as simple as communication — urging WGIL and other media outlets to make sure people know about local organizations that provide things like food, or lunch, and other things.
This was the second in a series of monthly food summits.