Foodbank encourages more culturally relevant products

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – The Eastern Illinois Foodbank is encouraging people to donate more culturally relevant products for families in need.

“Food is such an integral part of who we are as people and our nationality, and our culture really affects the food that we eat,” said Emily Yoder, Eastern Illinois Foodbank Partnership and Program Manager.

The Foodbank is increasing the amount of culturally relevant products in its inventory.

September is Hunger Action Month, and WCIA-3’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group, teamed up with Eastern Illinois Foodbank to help raise awareness. It’s about more than food. It’s about the future, and you can help!

More families are turning to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.

“That concern for food insecurity has risen to exponential levels. It’s really sad to see those levels of food insecurity,” said Dr. Margarita Teran, Assistant Dean for Integrated Health Disparities at the U of I.

Dr. Teran said said it’s even harder for single parents and families with language barriers to get assistance.

“It’s important to ask for help when you need help, because we live in a very generous community that people are willing to give support to help families in need,” Dr. Teran said.

However, thanks to a nearly $415,000 grant from Feeding America, the Foodbank has been able to increase mobile distributions and also increase its culturally diverse food.

“It’s a very good feeling. It’s very nice to see they’re appreciative. When you have products that are appropriate to them culturally, they appreciate that more,” Dr. Teran said.

Foodbank Partnership and Program Manager Emily Yoder said they added more than 114,000 pounds of culturally relevant products, including items like tortillas, beans and even certain types of fruit.

“It is so important to offer food that is culturally specific and familiar to our neighbors in need, and providing that monetary donation or bringing those items in to donate to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, we’re able to provide that to our neighbors in need,” Yoder said.

Yoder says the feedback from families has been great, and it’s certainly coming at a time where there’s a greater need.

“It can be a really stressful time. Meeting those neighbors in need with compassion, worth and dignity is very important and what we always encourage our partner agencies to do that,” Yoder said.

Organizers said they’re not only encouraging donors to focus on more culturally appropriate food, but they’re also making sure families have access to more nutritious items.

To get involved and help make an impact, you can click here.

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