CHICAGO (CBS) — Hunger is a growing problem this year, with many families who never thought they would have trouble putting food on the table really struggling because of the economy.

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is in Chicago Monday to help with a holiday food drive at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and she says hunger is a growing problem that isn’t solved easily.

“Less people are able to give. Our food dollars don’t go as far as they used to. All sorts of factors are combining to put a lot of people in a pinch, and that’s why it’s important to look at this from both a policy perspective, and from a ‘What can we do on a personal level?’ perspective, and that’s why my staff and I are going to be volunteering all morning long at the Food Depository,” Simon said.

Anyone can participate in the effort, which has been dubbed “One City, One Food Drive.” You can donate food or write a check, Simon says.

Some offices and workplaces – including CBS 2 – have set up containers in their lobbies. But if you don’t have that option, you can go to any Dominick’s grocery store to drop off a donation.

“A little bit of extra pumpkin pie filling will go a long way,” Simon said.

If you’re looking to volunteer, Simon says houses of worship are the best place to connect with people in need and offer your services.

Meanwhile, one company in Waukegan has really gotten into the spirit of holiday giving with its food drive. USABluebook has been in business for 20 years, and is packing up more than 1,500 pounds of food to donate Monday.

“We’ve been fortunate as a business to be growing in this economy, and we decided to give back, and we actually do this every year. We decided to make it a little bit more of a challenge, and pitted team against team – our customer service team against our warehouse, and we tripled what we did last year,” said merchandising analyst Jennifer Murphy.

Last year, there were roughly 700 pieces of food donated, while this year, 0.75 tons came in, Murphy said.

“The executive staff is coming out right now and just saying we should be very fortunate and feel very happy about where we’re at as a business, and some people are out of work right now, and we have the ability,” Murphy said, “and I saw people going out shopping in their lunch hours for food, and people stealing food out of other people’s drawers so their team would be ahead of the next team.”

The food is going to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, and will be distributed around Lake County and the surrounding areas.

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