Family Resiliency Center | Illinois

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FRC receives foodbank's Mission Impact award

9/26/2013  8:00 am

The University of Illinois Family Resiliency Center (FRC) received an inaugural Mission Impact award today from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank for valuable contributions that have allowed EIF to effectively and efficiently feed more neighbors in the community. During the last decade, FRC faculty and staff have collaborated with and advised EIF on several projects, including the Backpack program and a Feeding America study on how low-income families afford basic household and personal hygiene products. FRC researchers have also consulted on EIF’s Foodmobile Program and participated in several of EIF’s Hunger Symposium.

“We are honored by this recognition,” said FRC Director and Pampered Chef Endowed Chair Barbara Fiese. “The Eastern Illinois Foodbank is an important community partner that is working to end childhood hunger. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with them.”

            Recently FRC completed an evaluation of EIF’s Backpack Program, a Feeding America nationwide initiative that provides food-insecure school children with easy-to-prepare food to eat over the weekend. Locally, the EIF program serves more than 600 children who receive a backpack filled with food each Friday at their school. School personnel select which children participate in the program.

            Through a series of surveys and interviews, the FRC researchers found that the Backpack program is successful in identifying which children most likely would go hungry over the weekend. A second FRC finding was that while Backpack children typically miss more school than their classmates, their attendance improved on Fridays.

            FRC researchers also discovered that 13 percent of Backpack families became more food secure because of the program; however, 50 percent of the families remained food insecure. While the Backpack program was originally started to combat child food insecurity, most EIF participants shared the food and used it to prepare family meals. This study was funded by Feeding America, Morgan Stanley, and the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program.

            In another collaboration, FRC researchers interviewed EIF clients about how they afford everyday essential products related to personal hygiene and household chores. Through the interviews, the researchers identified which products are considered essential among low-income families, what strategies the families use to obtain the products, and how they cope if they’re unable to buy the products.

The results of the FRC interviews were then used to design a larger, nationally representative phone survey, as well as help food banks assess their clients’ concerns regarding household products’ needs. Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization, recently published the findings of the national study In Short Supply: American Families Struggle to Secure Everyday Essentials. This study was funded by Feeding America and Procter & Gamble.