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Educators stress severity of child hunger issues

WILLIAMSON CO. (WSIL) — Hunger and food instability is a real problem in our region. That’s why those on the front lines want to encourage you to donate to our Sack Hunger food drive. 

Studies show one in five children in Illinois doesn’t have enough to eat. 

"Some of our kids, they are on their own. Sometimes they are getting themselves up in the morning, they are getting themselves dressed, and they are finding food on their own," said Michelle Coriasco, social worker at Herrin Elementary School. 

She says for many children, there isn’t food at home. Coriasco says many times children have told her they go without eating when they’re not at school. 

"I had a child tell me, ‘I wish we had school tomorrow.’ On the last day of school when most students are excited that it’s the end of the school year, he was not. He wanted to stay because he was worried about not having enough food at home to eat," said Coriasco. 

Kathryn Payne works at Williamson County Learning Services as a Special Education teacher. She says a vast majority of her students need food assistance.  For her, the mission to help is personal. 

"When I was growing up, I was one of the students in need," said Payne. 

She knows from experience that one person’s donation to a pantry can make a difference in a child’s life and help them focus in the classroom. 

"It makes it very hard to concentrate on what’s in front of you when you’re worried about whether or not you’re going to eat," said Payne. 

Coriasco says those donations go a long way in southern Illinois where we have a higher poverty rate. She says your donation will make a difference. 

"Communities helping one another, that’s where it starts, it has got to start with us. We are the ones who make the change," said Coriasco. 

If you’d like to help, News 3 will be at the Anna Kroger on Thursday, September 12 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

This week we will be helping the Shawnee Development Council in Anna. For a list of suggested items to donate, click here. 

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