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Connection Corner

Help families have easier access to food this holiday season

happy holidays info graphic

According to Feeding America, a national network of food banks, 1 in 7 people in our country rely on a local food bank to eat. This number very likely could include you or someone you know. Particularly after the wake of job loss and shortages following the pandemic, individuals and families need assistance today more than ever.

Here in Central Illinois, many Heart of Illinois (HOI) food pantries and organizations are providing meals and food boxes in response to this need this holiday season. The Food Pantry Network – HOI and University of Illinois Extension have collaborated to share the details of the local meals and food boxes planned for November and December. You can find the complete details at

Plus, you and your family may be able to help! There are many benefits to volunteering together as a family, and you can impact the lives of others in a very real way. Try these ideas to help families have easier access to food this holiday season:

  • Share this holiday meal and food box list in your local communities so people will know of the resources available. If you are from outside the Heart of Illinois area, find your local food bank and help get the word out about the assistance they provide during the holidays
  • Use the tools above to contact local food pantries to see if they need help with distributing or packing meals.
  • Donate money or food to local food pantries, being mindful to donate healthy foods and food items your family would enjoy during the holidays.

To learn more about the benefits of volunteering as a family or ideas on how to get started, visit our earlier Connection Corner post, Encouraging Volunteering in Your Family.



Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.


Connection Corner:  is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.