Community residents continue their hunger strike in the State Capitol building, with only a few days left in session and more than $7 billion in cuts to vital state programs and services looming. Close to 200 community allies will join Hungry for Justice, an ad hoc group of residents aged 24 to 87, to send the clear message to the Legislature that they must protect the safety net for seniors, children, and working families, and pass a fair revenue increase.

“I’m blessed to be in good health, but what about all the seniors who aren’t?” said Brenda Hobson of Westchester, age 65. “If the General Assembly votes cut these programs, we’re all in trouble. That’s why I’m here.”

Slashing core programs such as home care services for seniors and people with disabilities, prevention programs that reduce violence, teen pregnancies, and substance abuse, and education and safety programs such as parent patrols and Grow Your Own teachers is unacceptable. An estimated 5 million Illinois families depend on these programs. At a time of economic crisis, cuts to our safety net are the worst possible action the Legislature can take.
“I’m not worried about my health,” said Mahaley Somerville, 87. “I’m worried about the health of my communities if we try and fix this budget by removing these programs.”

“My focus is the children – what will happen to them if we cut education and healthcare?” said Linda Sarate, who today joined the original 5 hunger strikers and will continue with them through May 31st. “Our communities are already suffering – every day I see the food pantry lines across the street get longer and longer. I’m joining the fast because people’s ability to live is already on the line.”

Hungry for Justice plans to continue the hunger strike until May 31st unless the General Assembly passes a budget that raises new revenue, increases tax fairness for working families, and protects the safety net. New hunger strikers will join every day, and faith and community members plan on supporting Hungry for Justice in Springfield and across the state by undertaking one-day solidarity fasts. Hungry for Justice is staying at the offices of the Black Caucus in Springfield, and appreciates their providing haven for the hunger strikers.