CHAMPAIGN — Many of the people on your holiday shopping list may already have enough stuff, but not everybody in East Central Illinois has enough to eat.
So once again, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank is offering the opportunity to give meals on behalf of your friends and loved ones, instead of buying them something.
Even a small donation for meals makes a big impact, says Cheryl Precious, director of marketing and development at the food bank.
Each dollar donated provides four meals, so even $10 adds up to 40 meals, she said.
"I think people really appreciate that they can make a reasonable-sized gift and make a big impact," Precious said.
The food bank takes donations all year long, but this is just the second year in a row it's run a special holiday campaign. Last year, 89 people took the food bank up on the offer to give meals instead of sweaters and donated a total of $6,055, Precious said.
"We were really excited at how well it went last year," she said. "It was the first time we tried anything like that."
The need for food assistance in this part of the state continues. There are 79,000 people in the 14 counties served by the food bank (Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Moultrie, Piatt and Vermilion) considered to be "food insecure," meaning they don't always have access to enough nutritious food, Precious said.
Giving money for meals in a loved one's honor is like giving twice at the holidays, she said.
Donors can have a printed or electronic card sent to their loved one announcing the gift. Or the food bank will mail them a blank card so they can personalize the message, Precious said.
To donate, see the food bank website at http://www.eifoodbank.org . Or call 217-328-3663,
For those who want to donate food rather than money, here's a list of the food bank's "super six" big food needs: canned meats, canned complete meals, canned beans and other vegetables, canned fruits, boxed meals and peanut butter.
The best time to drop off a food donation at the food bank, 2405 North Shore Drive, U, is during warehouse hours: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to noon Friday, according to the organization's website.