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Food Banks Across Midwest Continue to be Challenged by Need

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There are lots of indicators you can point to show that things are improving with the economy - like better retail sales this holiday.

Even local unemployment rates seems to be declining.

But there are still tens of thousands of people without work, and Changing Gears reporter Niala Boodhoo in Chicago has this report on the new reality food banks are facing as they try to help the unemployed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:12 am

Workers are busy checking pallets of food being shipped from the Chicago Food Depository. One in 8 residents in Chicago's Cook County will visit a food pantry or soup kitchen for food. Kate Maehr is the director of the Chicago Food Depository.

Kate Maehr: "People who call us and say, 'I know you because I used to make a donation to you. I'm calling today not to make a donation but to ask for help. I need to go to a food pantry and I don't know where one is.' The need is equally great across the Midwest. "

Food bank directors are calling it the "new poor". In Detroit, food pantry use is up 20 percent over the past year - most of that in suburbs where auto industry jobs had been based. In Cleveland, distribution has increased 50 percent in the past two years. And food bank directors say until the jobless rate improves, the need for their services won't be going away anytime soon. For Changing Gears, I'm Niala Boodhoo.

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