“End hunger now!”
Glennis Lenoir and his daughter Iyende at Lobby Day
Glennis Lenoir and his daughter Iyende attended Lobby Day in Springfield

Raucous chants from anti-hunger advocates filled the rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol on a mid-May afternoon, drifting down the halls of power and stopping lawmakers in their tracks.

“End hunger now!”

“End hunger now!”

The rally was a part of the annual Illinois End Hunger NOW Lobby Day on May 15. Busloads of the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s anti-hunger advocates traveled to Springfield to urge lawmakers to support legislation that will reduce hunger in Illinois. For many who made the journey from Chicago, the mission was personal, having experienced food insecurity themselves or witnessed it through their work.

“I’ve previously been homeless. I’ve been famished before. I’m here because I don’t want others to have to go through hunger.”

Glennis Lenoir, an advocate who attended Lobby Day

Each of the Food Depository’s legislative priorities were eventually passed by lawmakers and signed into law.

Bill HB3343:  The SNAP Prepared Meals Program adds a prepared/hot meals option to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for recipients who are disabled, elderly or experiencing homelessness.

Bill HB2118:  Extends the Victims of Trafficking, Torture and Other Serious Crimes (VTTC) program for immigrant victims to receive medical, food, and cash assistance. This program is scheduled to end this year if an extension is not passed. HB2118 seeks to extend the program indefinitely.

Bill SB1791: Build a strong and effective SNAP Employment and Training Program by moving Illinois in line with best practices identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This change will encourage more organizations to participate in Employment and Training, create more slots and allow the program to draw down more federal funds.

Bill SB1641: End hunger on college campuses by allowing the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to identify and notify college students that could be eligible for SNAP.

At the rally in the Capitol rotunda, Nicole Robinson, the Food Depository’s vice president of community impact, stepped to the lectern, looked out at the crowd and thrust her fist into the air.

“It is not sane nor is it moral for kids to wake up hungry every day or go to bed hungry,” Robinson said. “It makes no sense for … individuals who are homebound to not have access to food. It’s not moral for people to be victims of modern-day slavery – human trafficking – who have been through so much already and we don’t want to give them food. That’s why we are here today to fight for these individuals.”

In federal advocacy, the Food Depository advocated to protect SNAP in the bipartisan passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Subsequently, we traveled to Washington D.C. with staff and advocates to oppose proposed rule changes from the Trump administration that would result in millions of Americans losing food assistance. Our position is the same as it’s always been: No one should go hungry.