URBANA — If you're on Facebook, you can help the Eastern Illinois Foodbank try to win a $45,000 grant from Walmart.
The local food bank is competing with 123 other food banks to share in $3 million in hunger relief grants, but it needs help from the community to win.
Winning food banks will be the child hunger programs that get the most votes through April 30 at http://www.facebook.com/walmart.
Anyone with a Facebook account can vote once a day by clicking on a favorite program.
As of Thursday, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank had 567 votes, according to Walmart's Facebook page.
The Eastern Illinois Foodbank, which serves 14 counties, hopes to win money to support its Healthy Futures initiative to get more nutritious food to kids through its BackPack and school pantries programs, says food bank spokeswoman Julie Melton.
Receiving $45,000 would be equal to 5,600 backpacks full of food or stocking six school pantries for an entire year, she said.
The BackPack program, which sends backpacks of food home with needy kids on weekends, is expensive to maintain, Melton said.
"Eight years ago, we started with 35 backpacks every Friday at Garden Hills Elementary," she said.
The program has grown to 918 children at 25 schools in six counties, including Champaign, Coles, Douglas, Edgar, Piatt and Vermilion, she said.
The food bank is also now operating four high school food pantries for students in need and their families, two of them at Champaign Central and Centennial high schools and two in Coles County, Melton said.