CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago area Veterans Administration hospital has been given some extra help, thanks to a new food bank in the western suburbs.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository has opened a food pantry at Hines VA Hospital near Maywood. It's the food charity's second such pantry. The first opening was last year at the Jesse Brown VA Hospital in the Illinois Medical District on the West Side.
"We had no idea how great the need was, until we opened this pantry, and began to see the lines get longer and longer each week," Food Depository CEO Kate Maehr said.
Maehr said there's a significant number of veterans who are "food insecure," meaning they can't afford all the food they need to be healthy. She said 18,000 veterans live at or below the poverty level in Cook County alone.
"If we can make sure that the people coming in to the VA medical center have access to great nutritious food, we can also help ensure that they become healthier," she said.
She'd like to see more hospitals here and around the country open food pantries for veterans.
The food pantry at Jesse Brown VA is open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and serves 150 to 200 veterans every week.
The food pantry at Hines will be open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It will be managed by a member of Americorps and staffed by volunteers.
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