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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: The Quiet Crisis In Your Neighborhood

Susan Stephens
DeKalb County Community Gardens Grow Mobile

A quiet drama unfolds on Thursday afternoons at Huntley Middle School in DeKalb. One after another, cars turn off Fourth Street to line up in the parking lot. Well before Barb Food Mart’s 4:30 start time, the cars are snaking around the lot. And they just keep coming. The Depression era breadlines are back.


The pandemic is causing great economic hardship. The number of Americans experiencing food insecurity doubled last year and is now estimated at 20 percent. That’s 20 percent of Americans who do not have enough food. Barb Food Mart has seen this increased need, and it’s likely the nine other Sycamore and DeKalb food pantries have, too. Even if Congress passes a relief bill soon, it will be a long time before jobs come back and the economy heals.

The pandemic also forced Barb Food Mart to adopt a new model of food delivery. To keep everyone safe from the virus, food is now delivered outside, with volunteers placing boxes of fresh produce, shelf-stable foods, meat, milk, and bread directly into the trunks of cars.

Another effect of the pandemic? A stunning outpouring of help from the community. People have stepped forward to volunteer their time. And many individuals, agencies, and organizations have donated generously to help Barb Food Mart make the new model work and keep the food flowing. It is heartening to live in a community that sees when its people are hurting and is moved to help.

I’m Deborah Booth and that’s my perspective.

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