Locals to battle hunger


Becky Mascal, of DeKalb, organizes donated goods at the Barb Food Mart in Huntley Middle School in DeKalb. The Barb Food Mart, which is partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, is open from 4:30 to 6 p.m. every Thursday.

By Zachary Klehm

DeKALB — The Northern Illinois Food Bank kicks off its Go Orange Day campaign this month to help raise awareness of the hunger crisis facing the state, including the county of DeKalb.

Go Orange Day is Thursday, and all are encouraged to wear orange in support of the cause. It is one of dozens of events taking place this September as part of Hunger Action Month, said Jennifer Nau, Northern Illinois Food Bank director of communications. She believes hunger is one of the most pressing problems this world is facing.

“The best way [to fight this problem] is to talk about it and figure out if you can give a little bit of time,” Nau said. “When you’re in school you maybe don’t think about that, but if you could give a couple hours here or there, it makes a difference.”

Senior sociology major Cecilia Anderson said as a busy college student, she is pressed for time but will certainly be wearing orange Thursday.

Nau said one of the main issues in the fight against hunger is getting food to the places that need it.

“We live in an area that has enough food,” Nau said. “We just have to get that food to the right people and not waste it.”

The organization is dedicated to using its influence to provide food to those who are in need. The organization works with more than a dozen counties in the area and in the last fiscal year was able to provide 62.5 million meals to the 13 counties that they serve, according to the organization’s Fiscal Year 2016 report.

The organization uses food pantries — including the Huskie Food Pantry, which caters to students and is located in the Chick Evans Field House — shelters, youth and senior feeding programs and mobile pantries to distribute the food that goes through their warehouse each day.

Teresa Schryver, communications specialist for Northern Illinois Food Bank, encourages the community to remember that without their interest and support, none of what the organization has accomplished would be possible.

“It’s really inspiring to see the people overcome whatever it is they’re overcoming,” Schryver said. “If you’ve never experienced food insecurity or poverty, you really don’t have an inkling of what is out there. For you to be a well-rounded, engaged citizen, you need to understand that things are hard and complicated, and it’s not always black and white.”

The organization continues to push awareness as the cold months approach and need increases.

“Hunger is here, and hunger is real,” Nau said. “When you donate your time or resources, you are feeding your neighbors.”