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A Chicago drive to aid the needy

Chicago has launched a food drive - one of the first of what is expected to become a series of drives to aid the needy in the nation's major cities, Monitor correspondent Lucia Mouat reports.

Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, who set the Windy City's collection goal at $4 million in donated food and dollars, said the drive would be conducted during January rather than during the holidays, when traditional charities work the hardest to see that the poor and hungry are fed.

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The food drive will be a citywide effort, involving police and fire departments (food bins will be placed in all fire and police stations) and Chicago-area churches. The city will spend $2.2 million for the emergency program.

When reporters suggested that the timing could be called political (Mayor Byrne faces a tough mayoral primary fight Feb. 22), the mayor said: ''Cynics can say anything they want - the fact is that unemployment hasn't been so high since the depression. . . . The continuing recession is the reason for this.''

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