Participating restaurants include:
Participating restaurants include:
INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers are considering several bills this legislative session dealing with hunger issues in Indiana.
Thursday, the Senate is expected to vote on SB 9, which would remove a lifetime SNAP benefit ban on anyone who’s been convicted on felony drug charges.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says it was put into place as part of welfare reform legislation in the 90s but it really hurts those who make a mistake and end up in prison, because once they’re released they can’t always find a job, and aren’t able to receive help buying food.
Weikert Bryant says Indiana is one of the few states that has not removed the ban.
“Within the last two years, the states of Alaska, Texas, Alabama and Georgia have changed their policies away from that lifetime ban, and we’ve seen most other states do that as well because it doesn’t serve the purpose that it was intended,” she points out.
Weikert Bryant says people just getting out of prison make around $10,000 a year, but in Indiana the minimum amount needed for a single person to be considered self sufficient is more than $18,000 annually.
A bill heard recently in committee is SB 154, which would eliminate the asset test that a SNAP recipient must pass to be eligible for benefits.
Weikert Bryant says that regulation makes it nearly impossible for people to put anything aside so they can pull themselves out of poverty.
“If you have any sort of savings or some retirement account, some other types of savings, if you have a pre-paid burial plot, you have to sell or get rid of those assets, or spend them down, in order to be eligible for SNAP benefits, even if you have no income at all,” she points out.
Weikert Bryant calls the SNAP program one of the most well run, efficient and effective anti-hunger programs in the country.
She says food banks are providing meals to 1.1 million Hoosiers and they’re still having trouble meeting everyone’s needs.
Other bills she and other advocates are keeping an eye on this legislative session have to do with healthy food financing programs to help get fruits and vegetables to areas known as food deserts in the state, and a program to help food banks to buy Indiana-grown products.
Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry is committed to enhancing the quality of life for our clients through access to safe, nutritious food and other vital necessities. One in six Hoosiers is food insecure. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports legislation and administrative policies which recognize the needs of the more than 1.1 million Hoosiers Indiana food banks serve and increase the accessibility of nutritious food options to promote health, educational attainment, and workforce success for those in need.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports investment in healthy, Hoosier grown food through the Farms to Food Banks program funded through the ISDA.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry asks for $300,000 in year one of the biennial budget and $500,000 in year two, to be spent on Indiana grown and produced food to help Hoosiers at risk of hunger through the food bank network.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports removing barriers to public assistance enrollment and administration to ensure that programs that assist food bank clients are provided to those eligible for the assistance in the most efficient and cost effective way possible. We oppose establishing any additional barriers to public assistance eligibility or access or utilization.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports the removal of a ban on receiving SNAP benefits by individuals with a past felony drug conviction.
Since welfare reform in 1996, individuals convicted of a felony which has as an element the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance are ineligible for SNAP benefits under federal law unless a state opts out of this requirement. Indiana is one of only 7 states still operating under a lifetime ban, since Texas and Alabama altered state public policies in 2015 and Georgia and Alaska followed in 2016.
Additionally, SNAP bans do not apply to any other types of felony convictions. Because women are the primary recipients of SNAP and women of color are more likely to get caught up in the racial disparities of the criminal justice system, the bans disproportionally affect children of color and their mothers.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports the elimination of state SNAP asset limits through the enforcement of broad-based categorical eligibility.
In Indiana, a SNAP applicant household must have less than $2250 in assets ($3250 if the household contains a senior or individual with a disability) to be eligible. Assets include bank accounts, cash, real estate, personal property, vehicles not used for household transportation, retirement accounts, health savings accounts, education savings accounts, and individual development accounts. The household’s home and surrounding lot, household goods and personal belongings, defined benefit pensions and life insurance policies are not counted as assets in the SNAP program. Personal savings and assets pull families out of poverty and move them toward self-sufficiency. Asset limits adversely affect the recently unemployed who retain assets that must be spent down and seniors on fixed incomes.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports legislative review on successes of job connection for unemployed SNAP recipients with arbitrary time limits for nutrition benefits.
Since welfare reform in 1996, SNAP requires all recipients who are able to work to by government definition (despite existing physical and mental impediments) do so unless there is an exemption. So-called able bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who are financially eligible to receive SNAP benefits must meet special work requirements in addition to the general requirement to maintain eligibility.
ABAWDs can only receive SNAP nutrition assistance for 3 months in 3 years if the special requirements are not met. Outcome reporting from the IMPACT program would enable legislators to review the efficacy of the employment training and job placement program, whether it has assisted recipients to come off the program, and the impact on the charitable sector to provide services for individuals who have become ineligible for nutrition assistance and remain unemployed or underemployed.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports public policy proposals that will bring healthy food options to food insecure Hoosiers.
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports healthy food financing programs that empower food banks and pantries to build capacity for perishable items.
Food bank clients struggle to afford and access food. 85 percent of food bank client households purchase inexpensive, unhealthy food because they cannot afford healthier options. About a third of households report watering down food or drinks to make what they have last longer, including infant formula. Some grow produce. About two-thirds of client households have received help from family and friends, and more than 40 percent have sold or pawned personal property to do what they can to provide enough food for their families.
Hoosier food bank clients make trade-offs regularly:
• 77% choose between paying for food or utilities;
• 79% between food and transportation;
• 63% between food and housing.
Notably, nearly half of client households have incorporated charitable food assistance into their monthly food budgets. Emergency food assistance programs allow clients to address core food expenses so that limited income can be allocated elsewhere.
Food deserts are a part of the larger problems of hunger and healthy food access.
Food banks have developed innovative strategies to bring fresh produce and other nutritious foods into food deserts which include mobile pantries, trucks that drive out to communities that lack access to traditional food pantries or retail and distribute food. Additionally, there are roughly 1,800 charities already operating around the state that, with a modest grant or loan, could increase cold storage space or purchase mobile refrigeration to provide additional produce to assist Hoosier families.
While many of us attend holiday parties that center around food this time of the year, and maybe worry about eating too much – it can be easy to overlook the fact that people around us may not have enough to eat.
One in six Hoosiers doesn’t always know where their next meal will come from. According to Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, this is a year-round problem, but it’s at the forefront during the holidays.
“We see the holidays as an opportunity to start that conversation with the public and with newly-elected officials, to say, ‘Here’s what’s going on in our communities and here’s who’s in need, and there are people experiencing hunger, and that’s unacceptable,'” she said.
Bryant said everyone can help, either through food or cash donations or by volunteering at a local food pantry.
Now that the election is over, it’s time to let lawmakers know that hunger should be a top priority, she added.
“We’re asking our newly-elected officials, both in Washington, D.C., and in Indianapolis, who will be sworn in in the next few weeks to recommit to our state and to our country that nobody in our nation should go hungry,” she explained.
When it comes to food insecurity, the Food Research and Action Center ranks Indiana 23rd in the nation, with nearly 20 percent of households with children reporting they are unable to afford enough food.
New Data Underscore Need to Protect and Improve Federal Nutrition Programs
One in 5 households with children in Indiana reported in surveys covering the 2014–2015 period that they struggled to afford enough food, according to a new report released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit provides data on food hardship — the inability to afford enough food — for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).
Nationally, the food hardship rate for households with children (19.2 percent) was substantially higher than the food hardship rate for households without children (14.2 percent).
“Too many children across our state, and the nation, are missing out on the nutrition they need for their healthy growth and development,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This is unacceptable when there are solutions to end hunger now.”
Research shows that participation in federal nutrition programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and meals provided during child care, school, afterschool, and summer, mitigate hunger and supports children’s health and learning.
“We urge Congress to do right by their constituents and protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs,” added Bryant. “With political will, we can ensure all children have the nutrition they need for their health and learning.”
Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit contains data throughout 2014 and 2015 for 49 states and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas (MSAs). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, which has been interviewing hundreds of households annually since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” A “yes” answer to this question is considered to signal that the household experienced food hardship.
The full report is available at www.frac.org
Editor’s Note: Maine rates were excluded from this report due to anomalies in the Gallup polling data in that state.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States. In its A Plan of Action to End Hunger in America, FRAC recommends a policy path for the nation to reduce the suffering and unnecessary costs caused by struggles with hunger, poverty, and reduced opportunity. Follow FRAC on Facebook and Twitter.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Hunger Action 2016 campaign is under way in Indiana and a
cross the nation. In Indiana, more than one million people struggle with hunger and may not know where they’ll find their next meal. That number includes one in five kids who may not have enough to eat.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said September is a great month for the annual campaign because the holidays are just around the corner, and that’s when a lot of people tend to donate, but there are people in need now.
“Our food banks are serving people year round, as are the pantries that they provide food to, and there’s really no season for hunger,” she said. “There’s obviously an ebb and flow, a lot of which depends on the economy, but we certainly see a year-round need for people who are needing help.”
Indiana is the 18th highest-ranking state when it comes to hunger. Nearly 15 percent of Indiana households are food insecure. Just over 6 percent of those are very food insecure, meaning they are skipping meals on a regular basis because they can’t afford to buy food.
The idea of the campaign is to get everyone to help and Weikert Bryant said there are several ways to do that. People can volunteer at shelters or food pantries, they can donate food, or they can participate in programs such as those at local grocery stores where they may be asked to round up to the nearest dollar, with the extra change going to the food banks.
“They can actually leverage a dollar into multiple meals, if purchasing food, they’re accessing it at a wholesale rate or better, and so it enables them to, really turn that dollar into a significant impact,” she added.
There’s good and bad news when it comes to hunger in America. On the plus side, the numbers dropped from 2014 to 2015. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service said the rate declined from 15.4 to 13.4 percent. The bad news is still more than 42.2 million Americans lived in households that were struggling against hunger last year.
Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN
Feeding America Network Food Banks Promote Hunger Action Month
This September Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, together with the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks and state associations, will mobilize across all 50 states in an effort to bring an end to hunger. Hunger Action Month is designed to inspire people to take action and raise awareness of the fact that 48 million Americans, including 15 million children, are food insecure, according to the USDA.
In Indiana, more than one million people struggle with hunger and may not know where they’ll find their next meal. That number includes one in five kids who may not have enough to eat.
September marks the ninth year the Feeding America network has organized this annual call to action. This year the campaign will focus on the strong connections between hunger and health.
The Hunger Action Month 2016 campaign asks people to consider how it must feel to live with an empty stomach, which puts a healthy life and a promising future at risk.
“Hoosiers who struggle with hunger must be able to access enough healthy food to remain a vital part of their communities, and it is absolutely crucial that children are able to have consistent, nutritious meals to grow and learn,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.
According to a Feeding America study, Hunger in America 2014: Indiana Report, more than half of households served by the Feeding Indiana’s Hungry network include someone that is in either fair or poor health.
“I’ve spent many days on the road this past year, visiting food banks, food pantries, and meal programs and meeting people who are facing hunger,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “I’ve seen firsthand the anguish that food insecurity and hunger can cause. It is always heartbreaking to meet a mother or father who fears that they will not be able to feed their children. They know that their children cannot reach their full potential if they don’t have enough to eat.”
Hunger Action Day®, the second Thursday in September, is a day where efforts across the country are focused for greater impact.
This year, on September 8, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry asks supporters to share what they couldn’t do without adequate nutrition by writing on an empty plate, “On an empty stomach I can’t ______,” and filling in the blank with something they couldn’t achieve without the nutrition we need to thrive.
These photos can be posted to social media with #HungerActionMonth, @FeedINsHungry and @FeedingAmerica to join the conversation.
“With the combined effort of Feeding America, the nationwide network of food banks and hunger advocates across the country, the goal of this campaign is to raise awareness about hunger and inspire Americans to get involved,” Aviv said. “The Feeding America network is leading the fight to end hunger in the U.S. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need. Advocate. Educate. Volunteer. Donate.”
To learn more about Feeding Indiana’s Hungry member food banks and other ways you can get involved for Hunger Action Month in around the state, please visit HungerActionMonth.org.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Crops are coming in all over the Midwest, and since Indiana is home to more than 60,000 farms, food banks are hoping to be able to get fresh, healthy produce to hungry people in the state. The Farm to Food Bank program is looking for growers who have surplus or blemished produce that they can buy at low cost to donate to shelters and pantries.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said they work with farm organizations to distribute donations, but they’re also looking for small growers who’d like to help.
“To take that food off the hands of the producers, what they would ordinarily be turning over or leaving in the field, and then taking that healthy nutritious produce and distributing it through the ten food member banks and the thousand some agencies that they provide food to,” she said.
Weikert Bryant said it’s a win-win because farmers get paid for what they’d normally not be able to sell and food banks can pay below wholesale prices for Indiana-grown surplus.
Weikert Bryant also said the big winners are those who can’t afford to feed their families.
“It’s going out to people who are at risk of hunger, Hoosiers that we’re serving through Indiana’s food banks, and it’s making that connection between local produce, local farmers and consumers,” she added.
More than 15 percent of Indiana’s residents were food insufficient last year, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center. This put Indiana in the middle among states at 22nd in the nation. The farm-to-table program is funded through the department of Agriculture and through private donations.
New Data Underscore Need to Protect and Improve Federal Nutrition Programs
Despite an improving economy, one in six people – 15.5 percent of respondents – in Indiana reported in 2015 they still struggled to afford enough for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). This put Indiana in the middle among states at 22nd in the nation.
How Hungry is America? provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every state, the District of Columbia, and 109 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 16 percent in 2015. Despite dropping three points from 18.9 percent in 2013—the lowest since early 2008-the report reveals that still no corner of the country is immune to hunger.
For Indiana, it found that:
“The latest data underscore the critical role federal nutrition programs—such as SNAP, and in-school and out-of-school meals—play in fighting hunger and poverty in our state, and that greater investments in these programs must be made,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “We are urging our Members of Congress to focus on protecting and strengthening these proven programs across America and to oppose any proposal that would threaten our nation’s nutrition safety net. By doing so, we can put an end to hunger in Indiana and across America.”
“It is crucial that the nation take actions that will dramatically decrease food hardship numbers,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. “The cost of not doing so — in terms of damage to health, education, early childhood development, and productivity — is just too high. The moral cost of not doing so is even higher.”
How Hungry is America? contains data throughout 2015 for every state and 109 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing hundreds of households daily since January 2008. FRAC has analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
The full report is available at www.frac.org.
Less than one in six low-income children in Indiana who needs summer meals is receiving them, according to a national report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, released today by the Food Research & Action Center. In July 2015, 78,858 low-income children received summer meals in Indiana, a decrease of 7.5 percent from the previous summer. The Child Nutrition
Reauthorization currently being considered by Congress provides an important opportunity to invest in the Summer Nutrition Programs so that more children return to school in the fall, well-nourished and ready to learn.
“It’s troubling to see that a growing number of children across our state are still missing out on the benefits of summer nutrition programs,” said Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “We are working to reverse this trend this summer by engaging in aggressive outreach to raise awareness of summer meals with the Indiana Department of Education and many nonprofit and local partners across the state. The Summer Nutrition Programs can make a huge difference for the hundreds of thousands of children in our state whose families struggle to afford enough food.”
The report is an annual analysis of data that measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year. The school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, 18.4 low-income children in Indiana ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 15.8:100, down from last year’s ratio of 16.2:100.
There is still much room for improvement in Indiana. Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Indiana had reached 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, Indiana would have fed an additional 92,924 low-income children every day in July 2015 and brought in $7,334,032 more federal dollars to do so.
“Greater participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity, and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”
The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program in the summer months, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income Hoosier children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. These programs provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged. The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals that are served in positive community environments while the children’s parents are working.
Hoosier families can find nearby summer meal sites at http://www.doe.in.gov/nutrition/sfsp-parents-page, by calling 211 or texting FOOD to 877-877.
About the report:
Data for Indiana come from the June 2016 version of the annual report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, gives 2014 and 2015 data for every state and looks at national and state trends. FRAC measures summer participation during the month of July, when typically almost all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular school year meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.