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CHICAGO — Food pantries across the country are bracing for what’s to come on December 26.

Congress’ failure to act on new pandemic relief has created a crisis for hundreds of thousands of families as unemployment benefits are set to dry up the day after Christmas.

Close to half a million Illinois residents, most of them furloughed or unemployed, could see massive financial problems soon.  

The tremendous demand for food assistance has already put a strain on the staff at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, spokesperson Greg Trotter said, as they continue to call for more volunteers and donations.

“Since March, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people,” he said.  “It’s the likes of which we’ve never seen in our 41-year history.”

Anyone in need of food can find the nearest distribution center near them by going to the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s website or by calling 773-247-FOOD (3663).

More information on their website.

Editors note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that SNAP benefits are set to run out in January.