The Rauner administration could drop a waiver that allows almost a quarter-million Illinois adults to keep receiving food stamp benefits. Credit: File photo by Michelle Kanaar

The part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that increased food stamp benefits expired this month.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients across the state will see cuts that vary based on their monthly allocation. It’s toward the end of the month that people will feel the most impact of the cuts, especially with such proximity to the holidays.

The Union Avenue United Methodist Church is one of The Greater Chicago Food Depository’s food pantry locations. It’s open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Canaryville. Debra Ocampo has been working at the food pantry for 13 years, and is the current coordinator. “The pantry helped me out when I was in need,” Ocampo said, and now she’s giving back. Last year the pantry was averaging about 60 families a week, according to Ocamp. This year it average sbetween 120-140 families. Last week was the busiest, with about 160 families signing in.

Ocampo has seen a lot of new faces this year. Especially last week, when she had people telling her, “I never thought I’d be here.”

Make donations online at and find food donation centers that will be open through Dec. 31.

Photos by Michelle Kanaar