Serving up a helping hand

Census response event planned for Tuesday at The Kitchen Table


ROCHELLE – The City of Rochelle is closely monitoring its 2020 U.S. Census Count response percentage and has upcoming census events planned as the response deadline approaches.

As the new response deadline of Sept. 30 approaches, the City of Rochelle is closely looking at the community’s response rate percentage compared to its to 2010 percentage as well as the state and national percentages. As of Aug. 14, 71.7 percent of the community has responded, compared to 68.5 percent of the state and 63.5 percent of the country. 

On this date in 2010, the city had a response rate percentage of 73.5 and finished the 2010 count at 77 percent. While Rochelle is slightly ahead of the state and national percentages, it still needs to see improvement and is hoping the door-to-door census workers will help.

“We need to be higher than we are now since we are lagging behind 2010,” assistant to the city manager/city clerk Sue Messer said. “But, the census takers are in the community now going door-to-door and that should help increase the numbers.” 

Another reason for concern to the city is the recent census response deadline change. Originally, the census deadline was set for Oct. 31, but the date has recently been changed to Sept. 30.  

“We have to work really hard and quickly to prevent the deadline change from affecting us too much,” Messer said. “I am really concerned about that September deadline because losing 30 days that we had before is not helpful.” 

In an effort to increase the census responses as well as help those who are in need, the City of Rochelle has planned many upcoming census events. The first event is set for Tuesday, Aug. 18 at The Kitchen Table during its normal hours of 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

At the event, the City of Rochelle will cover the tab for up to 130 diners as well as offer a place and notebook computer to respond to the census. Several city staff members will also be there to guide and answer any questions individuals may have during the process. 

City staff will also be at the Rochelle Christian Food Pantry on Thursday, Aug. 21 from 1 to 3:30 p.m., handing out treats and back to school kits as well as helping people respond to the census. Census in the park events will also take place every Tuesday during the month of September. A postcard with specific parks and dates will be sent out to all community residents soon.

Individuals who attend and respond to the census at any one of the city’s upcoming events, will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $25 gift card to a local business of the winner’s choosing. Two people will be chosen each week and individuals can only win one time. On Sept. 30, everyone will be reentered for a chance to win a $500 gift card to his or her choice of business. 

“Other than attending and responding to the census at one of our city hosted events is that the individual be a Rochelle resident,” Messer said. “We are hoping that hosting these census events will help us reach those who need assistance as well as create an incentive for community members to respond.”