John Thies, Illinois State Bar Association president, announced an initiative Thursday at the River Bend Foodbank, Moline, to raise donations to provide 1 million meals to those in need.

Lawyers Feeding Illinois is a food and fundraising drive among Illinois law firms and legal organizations to raise donations between Feb. 18 and March 1, he said.

Thies put the number of “food insecure” in Illinois at 1.9 million during his tour of the Moline facility, adding that “we’re trying to address that.”

Thies said that as of Wednesday the drive already had raised enough donations in food and money to provide 238,000 meals. He hopes to reach 1 million meals by March 1.

He said the months of February and March were selected because they fall between the holidays, when a lot of donations to food banks are made, and the letter carrier collections in May.

“We’re told there’s a gap after the holidays when help really is needed,” Thies said.

Tom Laughlin, executive director of River Bend Foodbank, said the need for food is year-round.

“People have given for the holidays, but our need is constant,” he said. “There’s no break.”

The 20,000-square-foot River Bend Foodbank, 309 12th St., opened in 1982.

Laughlin said the food bank helps 10,000 individuals a week through a distribution network of 300 charities in 22 counties in Illinois and Iowa.

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