SIU athletes help fight massive hunger problem in Jackson Co.

SIU athletes help fight massive hunger problem in Jackson Co.
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - While many of us are planning and preparing our treats and meals for the Super Bowl on Sunday, others aren't as fortunate. And many in Jackson County, Illinois don't even know where their next meal is coming from.

It is a concern for residents, where many fight hunger due to lack of funds. And that is why food banks in the area are trying to help gather donations to help those in need.

On Saturday, the Good Samaritan Ministries and Murphysboro Food Pantry took part in a fundraiser called the Souper Bowl of Caring Fundraiser.

SIU football players were also participating and on hand at various stores throughout Carbondale, Illinois and Murphysboro, Illinois. We caught up with two Saluki football players who stood in front of the entrance at Kroger in Murphysboro. In their hand was a jar to collect funds for the local food pantries. And people didn't hesitate to donate their money.

"To a community who gives us so much, coming to our football games, raising money, donating money to us, it's nice to help out others who are in need," Saluki Bryce Wagner said.

The Good Samaritan Ministries and Murphysboro Food Pantry are part of the St. Louis Area Foodbank. They cover roughly two dozen counties in Missouri and Illinois.

The St. Louis Area Foodbank's latest report shows that one in eight people are in need of food assistance, which is roughly 392,000 people in the counties they cover. Of those 392,000, about 31 percent of them are children and 14 percent are seniors.

Jane Williams, Director of the Murphysboro Food Pantry, said Jackson County is the worst county in Illinois when it comes to people that are in need of food.

"There's a lot of people responding very well to this," Wagner said. "A lot of people are willing to donate and it's really a good feeling because it's nice to be able to say hello and say good morning to everybody."

Williams said that about one in every four people in Jackson County are in need of food assistance.

"It's such a big deal," Wagner said. "People need their meals and especially, 25 percent don't know when they're going to get their next meal and I feel like they need, they need to be reassured that they're going to have a meal."

According to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, 77 percent of households have incomes that fall at, or below, the federal poverty level. And 71 percent had to choose between paying for food or medicine and/or medical care within the past year.

To add to that, the 507 St. Louis Area Food Banks have provided 27,940,336 meals in 2014 alone, which have totaled $68, 995, 626 in consumable product donations/receipts.

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