Dining Out? Make a Difference With a 'Side of Relief'
Local restaurants are participating in the new "Add a Side of Relief to Your Meal" program to benefit the Lemont Township Family Assistance Fund and the Lemont Food Pantries.
Could you live off $10,830 a year? If you have a family of four, could you make ends meet on $22,050?
This is the 2010 federal poverty threshold.
The thresholds were originally developed in the 1960s by the Social Security Administration. Recently, many have questioned if the number is contrived and whether or not families are able to legitimately stay survice by these calculations. Lawmakers are debating ways to achieve a more realistic barometer of poverty that accounts for the cost of living in different areas, local employment numbers and the availability of public transportation to expand possible employment boundaries.
With that information under your hat, here is the local ramification: Each community must adapt the poverty level to what the costs of living are for that area.
In Lemont, the poverty level is a 175 percent of the national level, which means that a single person operating at $18,953 or a family of four living off $38,588 are considered living at or below the poverty level. These individuals are eligible for the relief services available in Lemont, such as the school lunch program, food pantries and emergency relief funds (if available).
Considering that the average rent in Lemont is $900 a month, housing consumes almost a third of a family's income and leaves a single person with just over $8,000 for utilities, food and other living expenses.
Your neighbor could be working every available hour, if work is available, just to make ends meet. One medical setback, car or home repair, or appliance replacement can create a financial vacuum that puts a person or family in a devastating downward spiral. That's when any and all help becomes essential.
One form of relief is the Lemont Township Family Assistance Fund, which is managed by the township's Human Services Department. The fund, which runs solely on charitable donations, was founded to assist individuals and families experiencing extreme financial strain that prohibits them from meeting their basic needs. The program provides funding for utility bills, rent, food vouchers, vouchers for clothes from the thrift store, prescription costs and more.
We are also fortunate to have two food pantries in Lemont (Bethany Lutheran and United Methodist) to assist these struggling households. Once a month, clients can receive non-perishable food and a voucher to purchase meat, dairy, produce and other items not available on food pantry shelves. These vouchers range from $30 to $65, depending on the size of the household. This assistance to helps open up funds for other necessities that are difficult to afford, such as kids clothing, cleaning products, laundry detergent, car and appliance repairs, etc.
Since the Lemont Township Family Assistance Fund and the Lemont Food Pantries are so essential in providing financial assistance for our neighbors in need, a new program has just been launched to raise awareness and assistance.
"Add a Side of Relief to Your Meal" is a program being run by four local restaurants: This Must Be the Place, 206 Main St.; 3 Corners Grill and Tap, 12371 S. Derby Road; PC's Pancake Cafe, 1264 State St.; and Stonehouse Pub, 103 Stephen St. These restaurants will be providing "Relief Menus," which will allow customers to add monetary donations to their bill.
Diners can choose to add $6 to their bill for the cost of a pound of ground meat or chicken breasts, $25 to donate to the Food Pantries, $10 for the township's Family Assistance Fund, or $15 for an individual to dine out (a luxury not affordable for some).
When you have business owners in that care to unite and make an impact on the neighborhood, you know that you are living in a community that has incredibly compassionate people who are aware of the struggles . It's efforts like this, business owners like these and the customers who frequent these businesses that work together to make our corner of the world a better place.