Government Is a Key Partner in Feeding the Hungry
Byline: H. Dennis Smith
H. Dennis Smith is executive director of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, based in St. Charles.
On Aug. 12, the Daily Herald published a staff-written article followed by an editorial on Aug. 14 that was critical of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's commodity food distributions to northern Illinois food banks.
It is true there were some concerns about current distribution of USDA products, but these were temporary, and we have been working with local USDA officials to work them out.
Overall, the food provided by this program has been of great benefit to the hungry of our state. As both the executive director of the Northern Illinois Food Bank and as president of the Illinois Food Bank Association, I would like your readers to know what a positive role the USDA has played over the years in providing food to millions of needy people throughout Illinois.
Since 1983, the USDA has supplemented private domestic hunger relief efforts through commodity donations made through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
TEFAP is the cornerstone program in the charitable efforts to feed our hungry neighbors and is the "bridge" between public and private hunger relief efforts.
Under the administration of the Illinois Department of Human Services, TEFAP is a unique example of public and private-sector cooperation that relies on volunteers at area food banks and local charitable agencies to prepare and distribute federally donated agricultural commodities to hungry people in their communities.
In fact, over the last year, 37 million pounds of TEFAP commodity products have reached hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents who rely on food distributed through the pantries, soup kitchens and shelters of their local food banks. And because TEFAP commodities include meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains, they are some of the most nutritious foods the Illinois food banks receive. …