Pandemic affects food insecurity

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Retired educator, Patricia McKinney-Lewis, is raising awareness for the Feeding America Campaign, and she’s hoping to inspire others to donate and support people who are facing the impossible choice of hunger.

“The need is great. Food insecurity is real, and we don’t want anyone to be in a position to be hungry or worried about where my next meal will come from,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the need to help people now is greater than ever as the Coronavirus affects more Illinois families every day. “It is a feeling that is unbelievable. It’s amazing when you feel like you’re doing so much good, and that you’re doing the work that God has asked you to do,” Lewis said.

Patricia McKinney-Lewis started the Saint Luke C.M.E. Food Pantry in 2010 after she noticed a need in the African American community across Champaign County.

“Nutrition is important to be healthy, and if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” Lewis said.

Clients like Lille “Belle” Miller have trouble getting around. So, volunteers drop off food for them once a month. They also sometimes send care packages around the holidays when those food drop-off dates aren’t around the holidays.

“Old people and children are my heart. I’m one of those old people now, and I’m so thankful we have Saint Luke to lean on,” St. Luke C.M.E. Food Pantry client, Lillie Miller, said.

“But, these are our seniors. We stand on their shoulders, and we owe them a great debt. We want to make sure they’re taken care of. We are our brothers’ keepers,” Lewis said.

Before the pandemic, the Saint Luke congregation helped 65 families every month.

At the height of the pandemic, that number jumped to 95 families.

“Our senior population is more at risk, because they were not getting the extra money for unemployment and not getting the extra money because they have children,” Lewis said.

Clients like Miller say they’re forever grateful for people like Lewis and the volunteers at Saint Luke C.M.E.

“Oh, it’s great. It’s been a blessing to me, and I’m sure to all the seniors at St. Luke too,” Miller said.

Lewis is also on the board of directors of the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

If you’d like to help people in need across the area, you can click here.

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