2006 marks the 10th anniversary of the “4-H CAN Make a Difference” food drive, which culminates at the Illinois State Fair, August 11-20, 2006. 4-H youth and leaders will partner with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, as well as other state agencies and businesses including: the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, US Bank and WFMB Radio to collect food goods and ease the hunger of nearly 1.5 million Illinois residents in need.

Over the past 9 years, the campaign has collected 2.3 million pounds of food, and participants have volunteered over 2 million service hours. This year, 4-H is proud to announce that Illinois’ First Lady, Patti Blagojevich, will serve as the honorary chair for “4-H CAN Make a Difference.

“ This has become a traditional role of the First Lady since the campaign began 10 years ago. “This food drive was started to restock the shelves at food pantries and shelters during the critical summer months when food donations tend to dwindle and school children are at home for summer vacation,” said Sharon Petefish, U of I Extension Specialist.

The 4-H CAN Make a Difference food drive serves as an opportunity for youth to get involved in their communities and raise awareness among citizens concerning the fight against hunger.

Last year, the Illinois Food Bank Association has presented 4-H CAN Make a Difference with the Statewide Food Drive of the Year Award for their outstanding leadership and service to citizens in need.

Furthermore, evaluation results indicate that 87 percent of the youth who participated in 4-H CAN Make a Difference rated their involvement as their “most meaningful 4-H activity.” The 4-H CAN Make a Difference “House of Food” exhibit will be displayed at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. Bagged, boxed or canned non-perishable food donations will be accepted at the fair. Food collection bins will be set up throughout the fairgrounds.

All citizens who participate will be given discount coupons for some of their favorite state fair foods!

For more information concerning the food drive, please contact the U of I Extension 4-H Office at 217-265-8206. 4-H is the largest out-of-school educational program for youth in the United States and it assists youth in acquiring knowledge, forming attitudes, and developing life skills that will enable them to become caring, competent, and contributing members of society. In Illinois, more than 292,000 youth participate in 4-H and the other youth programs of U of I Extension, and more than 25,500 adult volunteers assist in the programming (www.4-h.uiuc.edu). -30- Gary Beaumont University of Illinois College of ACES 1301 W. Gregory Dr. Urbana, IL 61801 217-333-9440 E-Mail: beaumont@uiuc.edu

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