CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Central Illinois is no exception to food insecurity impacting our communities. Even more so, many of our youth still ponder their next meal when they’re not learning in school. So this week, several individuals and groups banded together to help that.
In a team effort, students from the University of Illinois spent their Tuesday packing up bags filled with various food and snack items for “Feeding Our Kids.” They’re a non-profit group working tirelessly to ensure 1,000 kids in 42 Illinois schools are fed, even when the weekend arrives. Students from LAS 122, School of Social Work and Alpha Phi Omega from the U-of-I campus joined two other universities and 11 community members in packing food this week.
But one group has been making life easier for Feeding Our Kids for about 10 years now, and they’re known for helping in a wide range of situations. From moving college students in to helping businesses relocate. Two Men and A Truck (Champaign) has offered their services to transport food for Feeding Our Kids. That way volunteers never have to use their SUV’s again. Which is something Travis Blaney, the Business Development Manager, is proud to reflect on.
“To be able to give back to the community is something that’s super important to us. We’re strong believers that being local means more than just having an address in that zip code.”
Travis says the Two Men and A Truck team isn’t stranger to service opportunities. They often receive requests to help move sets for the local Fine Arts Academy and C-U Ballet group. It’s their mission to conduct business in the same way, with selflessness and a supportive spirit in every way. It’s another reason why Alison Dupre is proud to partner with their team yet again. Seeing U-of-I students and the community rally together for their same cause gave her hope.
“Part of it is, they know there’s a need. Some kids may have been impacted by food insecurity in their youth and they wanna give back. Some just want to make sure they can do something for the community because sometimes you don’t always know what you can do. Even just doing a little bit makes a big difference.”
Elijah Mowatt, a freshman on campus, is part of the Leadership And Society class (LAS 122) and they learn the role between service, community engagement and leadership. As a James Scholar, Elijah chose this service opportunity with Feeding Our Kids because he’s seen food insecurity up close in Chicago. So he was proud to share how college already exposes him to real world issues.
“Being at the University has opened me up to a lot of different opportunities and I’ve met a lot of amazing people interested in sort of the same things. It’s nice having like minded students around my age seeking to create impact and change. It makes me feel good about myself and is inspirational.”
Just in the past year, Two Men And a Truck’s local teams have helped Feeding Our Kids deliver over 10,000 pounds in their 2022-2023 fiscal year. That resulted in 49,000 pounds (40,000 meals) going to kids in need in Central Illinois. Just this year already, their team has delivered food five times to area schools like Unity West Elementary in Tolono. Alison says that’s not possible if not thanks to their 200 volunteers and 15 community partners, which they’re hoping to expand on.
Feeding Our Kids is also a weekend food program, to ensure kids get fed even when class ends. So if you want to learn more about their mission and what they could use help with, just click here.