What it Takes to Feed Our Community

Accessibility Options

Family smiling with food

United Way is working to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food.

Imagine if households connected to the electrical grid received varying amounts of power based on their income level or neighborhood. What if families in under-resourced or rural areas couldn’t access enough power to keep their lights on every day? 

In most communities, we take for granted that our power grid will provide everyone the electricity they need. Our nation’s food system is a different story. Healthy, affordable food is abundant in some neighborhoods and hard to access in others. 

United Way of Champaign County and our community partners are working to reinforce and expand our food infrastructure so that it serves everyone equally, no matter where they live. 

What is Food Insecurity? 

The term “food insecure” refers to individuals who don’t get enough healthy food on a regular basis. 

For thousands of people in Champaign County, food insecurity means:

  • Not knowing where the next meal is coming from
  • Skipping meals or reducing portions
  • Missing out on more expensive fresh produce and other healthy options
  • Shopping at a convenience store, because there are no nearby supermarkets
  • Spending hours walking, driving or taking public transport to reach the nearest grocery store 
  • Choosing between paying rent, going to the doctor or buying food for their family

Food insecurity is a pervasive, structural problem that’s intertwined with poverty, wage stagnation, educational opportunity, health care access and systemic racism. 

According to Feeding America, a lack of healthy food can do significant harm to a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement, and future economic prosperity. Food-insecure children may experience delayed development, an increased risk of chronic illness, and behavioral problems like hyperactivity and anxiety.

Who is Food Insecure?

In 2021, 42 million people across the nation are likely to experience food insecurity, according to Feeding America. That includes:

  • 1 in 8 Americans
  • 1 in 6 children
  • 1 in 6 Latinx individuals
  • 1 in 5 Black Americans
  • 1 in 4 Native Americans

What it Takes to Feed Our Community

United Way is working to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food. These individuals live in nearly every neighborhood and community, including our own.  

What is United Way of Champaign County doing to tackle food insecurity?

With our resources, partnerships, and ability to convene people from across the community, United Way of Champaign County is uniquely equipped to solve the complex challenge of food insecurity.

From mobile food pantries to health education that helps families cook healthy and affordable meals, we find creative, locally-based solutions to help communities narrow the food gap. With our community partners, we're creating opportunities for families to eat fresher, healthier foods on a budget. 

Our impact-driven solutions include:

  • Food delivery, communal meals and other nutrition programs for senior citizens
  • After-school meals and summer lunch programs for children and youth
  • Innovative Farmers Feeding Families program, which boosts our funding to food programs by 32% 
  • Ride United Last Mile Delivery, a program that delivers meals and groceries to people who lack transportation options
  • Help and guidance for families to apply for SNAP benefits
  • Comprehensive information on local food resources shared through 211
  • Through these programs and many more, United Way is already seeing significant progress.

For example:

  • 300,000 pounds of nutritionally dense food was provided
  • 571 people demonstrated decreased nutritional risk - from the work of just one partner program!
  • 97,714 home delivered meals were provided

Local communities play a vital role in helping people from under-invested neighborhoods access healthy and nutritious food. Together, using local solutions funded by local people, we can narrow the food gap in our community. 

Child and adult eating together