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Midwest Food Bank prepares for an increase in need as pandemic-era food aid funding ends

A Midwest Food Bank outside the 2021 Peoria Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving luncheon.
Hannah Alani
A Midwest Food Bank table outside the 2021 Peoria Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving luncheon.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently announced that monthly SNAP food aid benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels beginning on March 1.

This comes after Congress decided last December to end pandemic-era emergency funding.

As a result, food banks across the country are preparing for an increase in people requesting help.

Monica Scheuer, executive director of the Midwest Food Bank Peoria branch, said food banks have been anticipating this demand increase for some time.

“We have no doubt that the need is going to increase because we've been seeing the need increasing already. There's just more families that are still in financial distress,” Scheuer said, “and with all of the increased cost of living, just that alone has increased the need for food because people have to choose between whether to pay their food bill or the electric bill.”

The Peoria branch has begun preparing for a higher demand. Scheuer said the agency is procuring food from all over the country and bringing it to their warehouse to be distributed.

“We used to do distribution only once a month, but we have been gearing up to do weekly distributions,” Scheuer said, “so that food pantries and feeding programs that pick up food from us can get food more frequently, because we know that families are going to need food more frequently, too.”

The Midwest Food Bank will continue to go after more food and stock their warehouses as families are needing more assistance.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.