CHICAGO (AP) -- The number of Illinois residents relying on food stamps and visiting food banks is rising along with the poverty rate.
The number of food stamp recipients increased 19 percent during the recent recession and has increased an additional 41 percent since it ended in June 2009.
At the same time, households served by the state's emergency food program spiked from 2.27 million in fiscal year 2009 to almost 3 million in 2012. That's according to the Illinois Department of Human Services, which distributes federal surplus commodities to food banks.
The Chicago-based Social IMPACT research Center reported Wednesday that 15 percent of Illinoisans are in poverty and another 18 percent are close to it.
Food pantry officials say many seeking help are working full-time but still can't make ends meet.