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HOUSE PASSES BILLIONS IN CUTS TO FOOD ASSISTANCE THAT HELPS 650,000 HOOSIERS

The 2018 budget resolution that the House of Representatives passed last Thursday strips billions of dollars from a program that helps working families put food on the table to accommodate massive tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy. Alongside drastic cuts to programs that expand economic opportunity for ordinary Americans, the budget includes major reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, helped 654,122 Hoosiers keep healthy food on the table in August.

“SNAP is one of the most cost-effective tools we have in the fight against hunger and poverty,” said Jessica Fraser, program director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families and c0-chair for SNAP Works for Hoosiers. “It’s also good for our economy. When families can afford to buy groceries, it pumps money back into local businesses and fuels long-term economic growth. This budget abandons our commitment to ensure no child goes hungry and paints a dark picture of our priorities, cutting critical programs for working families, seniors, children and people with disabilities to set up tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy.”

Just like the House, the Senate is working to pass a budget resolution that opens the door for similar drastic cuts and massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. These tax giveaways would add over $1.5 trillion to budget deficits and likely force even deeper cuts to programs like SNAP that help 290,000 Hoosier households. These cuts would pull the rug out from under the most vulnerable in our society, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And to pass this dangerous tax plan, Republicans in the Senate are also establishing a partisan process that allows them to cut taxes for the top 1 percent with just 50 votes.

Before America made a national commitment to end hunger, some areas of the country had serious problems with hunger, including children suffering from malnutrition. Although the food assistance SNAP provides is extremely modest – averaging only $4.00 per recipient per day – the program successfully keeps more than 8 million people out of poverty nationwide, including nearly 4 million children. Looking at 2009-2012 averages, in Indiana alone SNAP helped keep 110,000 of children out of poverty and improves long-term health, education, and employment outcomes for children across the state.

“If Hoosier families lose SNAP benefits, thousands in our community could go hungry,” said Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, also a co-chair of SNAP Works for Hoosiers. “Our food banks do good work to help families, but they cannot fill the gap that these cuts would create. Instead of supporting tax cuts that help those who need it the least and the expense of those struggling to get by, Senators Donnelly and Young should pledge to protect SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the federal budget. We all win when our communities are healthy and prosperous.”

SNAP also supports local economic growth. Families spend their SNAP benefits at local grocery stores and other retailers, driving $1.1 billion into our state’s economy each year. If SNAP is cut, retailers could take a hit, and many of our communities, especially in rural areas, could lose businesses and jobs.

In addition to slashing SNAP funding, the House and Senate budgets would force devastating cuts to Medicaid and programs that provide income assistance, job training, help for students struggling to afford college, and economic development. If these budgets become law, they will only worsen the growing gap between the richest households and everyone else.

September 26 is National Voter Registration Day

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry events will register voters at Indiana food banks

Today, Americans will celebrate National Voter Registration Day with a massive 50-state effort to register voters before the next election.

With important local and state elections in 2018 only months away, every eligible American voter should exercise his or her right to be heard at the ballot box. National Voter Registration Day is the right place to start by getting registered. As a nonpartisan “holiday” for democracy, National Voter Registration Day counts on thousands of partners and volunteers across the political spectrum as well as nonpartisan nonprofits like Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

“Although Indiana’s next election is not until 2018, it’s important for every Hoosier to register to ensure their voice is heard. As a nonprofit representing anti-hunger service providers, we feel it’s important to assist our clients so that they’re able to participate in our democratic process,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Partner organizations will coordinate hundreds of National Voter Registration Day events nationwide and leverage #NationalVoterRegistrationDay on all social media platforms to drive attention to voter registration. Events can be located by visiting https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/.

Hoosiers can register at several events across Indiana and online at http://www.indianavoters.com/. Indiana residents with a valid Indiana driver’s license or Indiana state-issued identification card will be able to use this tool to submit a new voter registration application, confirm they are registered, or to update an existing voter registration record if they’ve recently moved, turned 18, or changed their name.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry will register voters at the following events today:

Voter Registration Drive at Gleaners’ Community Cupboard
10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Community Cupboard 3737 Waldemere Ave Indianapolis, IN 46241

Voter Registration Drive at Food Finders Food Bank’s JP Lisack Community Food Pantry
1:00 PM-5:00 PM
Food Finders Food Bank Food Resource & Education Center (FREC)
1204 Greenbush Street Lafayette, IN 47909

About National Voter Registration Day

Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right – the right to vote. More than two million Americans have registered to vote on this day since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day.

 

First Farmers Bank & Trust Donates to Million Meals Program

Governor Eric Holcomb joined employees of First Farmers Bank and Trust and Indiana Pork farmers to present a $10,000 check to the Million Meals program through Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Indiana Pork’s Million Meals program received a boost thanks to a $10,000 donation by First Farmers Bank & Trust, headquartered in Converse, IN, during the Ham Breakfast held opening morning of the Indiana State Fair on August 3. Since its inception in 2009, the Million Meals program has provided more than one million ground pork meals to Hoosiers in need through a partnership with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, an association representing Indiana’s food banks.

“As the largest agricultural bank east of the Mississippi River, First Farmers Bank & Trust is focused on production agriculture as it is the backbone of our business and the great state of Indiana. We feel the Million Meals program is a tremendous way to honor our farmers and employees by sharing the blessings of agriculture with the less fortunate in our communities,” said Jeff Rodibaugh, Vice President Commercial Production Manager, First Farmers Bank & Trust.

The Million Meals program is truly an Indiana effort with the pork provided by Indiana Packer’s Corporation in Delphi and the processing at McFarling Foods in Indianapolis. The ground pork is distributed among Feeding Indiana’s Hungry member food banks throughout the state.

“We are very thankful to First Farmers Bank & Trust for their generous donation. The Million Meals program continues to be a wonderful partnership for our association, Indiana Pork and the generous contributors that make it happen,” said Emily Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Hunger is an Emergency that Congress Cannot Ignore

Proposed SNAP Cuts will Hurt Hoosiers

What is an emergency? A storm? Maybe a flood or a fire? What about an act of violence or a health problem? Certainly. But it’s also an emergency when a family doesn’t have anything to eat for dinner.

Anti-hunger aid is generally called “emergency food assistance.” This includes the work done day in and day out by food banks, pantries, child hunger programs, and others around the country. They do amazing work with meager resources and donated food to keep that family from skipping meals and being hungry.

But the work of the charitable sector only accounts for about 10% of emergency hunger relief in the US. By far the largest emergency food program, providing help for more than 700,000 Hoosiers last year, comes from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP also keeps that family from skipping meals while generating local economic activity because the benefits are used to purchase food at grocery stores and markets.

Working for an organization supporting anti-hunger programs without any food assistance to offer, I still receive calls from Hoosiers who need food right now. A worried mother who knows that there is no food in the house when her kids come home from school. A grandmother struggling to feed grandchildren she is raising. A recently unemployed dad who doesn’t know how he can keep a roof over his family’s head, pay the bills, find a new job, and feed his family. These are emergencies. Many of us are fortunate to never experience this kind of crisis, but when it happens to you, it is just as critical as a flood or a fire. SNAP provides vital emergency relief for many Hoosiers.

Right now, Congress is considering massive cuts to SNAP that will have a deep impact on millions of Americans when they find they are no longer eligible to receive help feeding their families or their benefits are cut, and they’re running out of options. These cuts will leave a hole in the food budget of families that the charitable sector cannot fill. Cuts in SNAP benefits or eligibility have often been considered by some Members of Congress as a way of shrinking the deficit, reducing a real or imagined reliance, or seeking to incentivize desired behaviors. While these are not unreasonable goals, it is wholly unacceptable to not provide food to someone who is hungry in this country. I implore our Members of Congress, particularly Congressman Rokita, the vice chair of the House Budget Committee, to oppose any budget that uses the reconciliation process to cut key programs, including SNAP, that help the struggling families we serve. Hunger must not be an emergency for another Hoosier family.

Emily Weikert Bryant is the executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the state association of food banks.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Statement on the President’s Budget

The 2018 budget proposed by President Trump would be damaging for the nearly one million Hoosiers facing hunger. The budget makes significant cuts to programs that support millions of Americans who have fallen on hard times, including SNAP (or food stamps), which would be reduced by more than $190 billion over 10 years – a cut of more than 25 percent and resulting in at least 45 billion meals lost.

The budget also proposed cuts to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is federal commodity food largely distributed through America’s food banks. Any proposed cuts to TEFAP would limit the ability of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry member food banks to provide food assistance throughout the state. Estimates show 33 million meals would be lost nationwide in FY2018 due to TEFAP cuts.

“While food banks work tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance to families at risk of hunger, the problem is simply too big to fix without national government programs that are proven to lift people out of hunger and reach far more people,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “In fact, charitable food programs provide only 10% of the meals that SNAP does. Any cuts to SNAP would increase demand on the nation’s charitable food system at a time when food banks are already stretched to meet sustained high need, and would be devastating to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger.”

SNAP Facts:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as “food stamps”) is the cornerstone of the nutrition safety net, providing assistance to low-income Americans to ensure that they can get the nutrition they need.
  • As of January 2017, 42.6 million people were enrolled in SNAP. [Source: USDA.]
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) helps millions of low-income Americans put food on the table and provides benefits that are timely, targeted and temporary.
  • Nearly 90 percent (86.5%) of SNAP participants live in households that include a child, a senior or someone who is disabled. [Source: USDA, FY 2015 SNAP Characteristics Report, table A.14]
  • 65.9% of SNAP benefits go to households with children. [Source: USDA, FY 2015 SNAP Characteristics Report, table A.1]
  • Benefits currently average about $1.40 per person per meal. [Source: CBPP analysis of USDA data.]
  • While it is true that about 1 in 8 Americans currently receive SNAP benefits, this is generally linked to the fact that nearly the same number also live at or below the poverty level, which is $20,420 for a family of three in 2017. [Source: HHS]
  • Most SNAP recipients who can work, do work. 64% of participants are children, elderly, or disabled and not expected to work; 22% work full time, are in a training program or are caregivers; and the remaining 14% either work less than 30 hours a week or are unemployed. [Source: USDA]

Winners of March Against Hunger Announced

The Indiana State Bar Association, in coordination with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, today announced the winners for this year’s March Against Hunger virtual food drive competition. The following winners from each of the six divisions will receive the “Attorney General’s Cup” trophy at the Association’s Awards Luncheon on Aug. 30.

This year’s March Against Hunger food drive competition took place March 1-31, generating $37,294.78 in monetary donations. Since 2009, the food drive has generated a total of 70,019 pounds of food and $378,730.69 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks.

 

REPORT: ONE IN SEVEN HOOSIERS IS HUNGRY

A new report says 38 Indiana counties have food insecurity rates among children at or above 20 percent. (USDA)
A new report says 38 Indiana counties have food insecurity rates among children at or above 20 percent. (USDA)

More than 300,000 children in Indiana don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Feeding America’s 2017 Map the Meal Gap report is out, and it looks at the hunger rate in every county across the country.

The report analyzes factors such as food price variations, food budget shortfalls, poverty and unemployment.

It says overall, 1 in 7 Indiana residents is food insecure.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says the hunger rate for children is even higher – at 20 percent or more – in 38 counties in the state.

“You’ve got counties that are as high as almost 24 percent in Fayette, and nearly that high in Switzerland and Wayne as well,” she states. “And so, you’re talking about really closer to 1 in 4 children who are at risk of hunger. So they don’t know where that next meal is coming from.”

Weikert Bryant says about 7 in 10 Hoosier children are eligible for some sort of nutrition assistance program, but that leaves about 30 percent whose families make too much to qualify. In some cases, she says, the only places they have to turn for help are charitable organizations that distribute free food.

The report also finds shortfalls are growing in many families’ food budgets. Weikert Bryant says that means there isn’t enough to stretch from paycheck to paycheck.

“The numbers are remaining fairly steady, but the folks that are food insecure are having a much harder time,” she states. “That hole they have to dig out of is deeper than it used to be.”

Weikert Bryant adds a greater effort is needed to make sure that people who are eligible for food assistance apply for and receive it, and she says this is no time for the federal government to cut or restrict eligibility for food programs.

Marion County has the highest overall food insecurity rate in Indiana. Hamilton County has the lowest, but Weikert Bryant says there still are 26,000 people in that county at risk of hunger.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Life Gets Harder for Indiana’s Hungry

According to Study, 14% Hoosiers Struggle with Hunger

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2017, the latest report by Feeding America® on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level. Map the Meal Gap 2017 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Indiana. Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 9 percent of the population in Hamilton County up to nearly 19 percent in Marion County. The national average food insecurity rate across all counties is 14%.

The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.  Food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $15.44 per person each week, up from $14.92 last year.

“We have seen a consistent increase in the food budget shortfall the last several years, in spite of economic improvement,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This rising measure of need suggests that people facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.”

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry is a Partner State Association of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger.  The eleven member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry collectively distributed 62.6 million meals to clients across Indiana in 2016 to alleviate hunger.

“It is disheartening to realize that millions of hardworking, low-income Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves and their families at the same time that our economy is showing many signs of improvement, including a substantial decline in the number of people who are unemployed,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “This study underscores the need for strong federal nutrition programs as well of the importance of charitable food assistance programs, especially the food pantries and meal programs served by the Feeding America network of food banks.”

Map the Meal Gap 2017 uses data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and food price data and analysis provided by Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

Key local findings:

  • 14.4% food insecurity rate in Indiana is estimated to be 950,720 Hoosiers at risk of hunger.
  • Child food insecurity numbers are estimated at 301,990 at 19.1%.
  • County averages range from 12.6% in Hamilton County to several counties to 38 at or above 20%, and several nearing a quarter of children in the county being food insecure, including Fayette, Switzerland, Sullivan, and Wayne Counties at over 23%.
Dr. Craig Gundersen, Professor of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Executive Director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory and a member of Feeding America’s Technical Advisory Group is the lead researcher of Map the Meal Gap 2017. A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the United States, and the full report are available at map.feedingamerica.org. Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2017 on Twitter using #MealGap.

March Against Hunger Kicks Off 9th Year!

The Indiana State Bar is teaming up with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry for its ninth consecutive year to sponsor March Against Hunger, a food drive competition for lawyers to raise money for Indiana’s 11 regional food banks March 1-31. The competition is an opportunity for lawyers statewide to help put food on the tables of those struggling in our state. Since 2009, the March Against Hunger food drive has generated 70,019 pounds of food and $341,435.91 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks.

This year in order to make it easier for food drive participants to donate, the competition will be a virtual campaign. Through a virtual food drive, your donation doubles or even triples the impact of your generosity, and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry is assured it can distribute the most-needed items to food banks across the state. To clarify, this competition no longer includes the collection of non-perishable food donations.

The winner in each of the following categories will be presented with the coveted “Attorney General’s Cup” trophy:
Solo Proprietor (1 lawyer)
Small Firm (2-11 lawyers)
Medium Firm (12-21 lawyers)
Large Firm (22-49 lawyers)
X-Large Firm (50+ lawyers)
Public/Non-Profit/Local Bar/Law School

Firms can sign up anytime before the competition begins or during the collection period. Click to sign up here

IMPORTANT!
When you donate through Feeding Indiana’s Hungry online portal via the link below, please be sure to include your firm and city in the field that says, “Comment, In Memory, Tribute.”

 

March Against Hunger on Crowdrise

Chili’s Partners with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

Chili’s Indiana restaurants are partnering with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry! Through the May 1st, 15% of pre-tax purchases will be donated to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry with voucher!

Participating restaurants include:

Bloomington
Carmel
Clarksville
Columbus
Dyer
Franklin
Greensburg
Greenwood
Indianapolis
Kokomo
Martinsville
Merrillville
Muncie
Noblesville
Plainfield
Richmond
Seymour
Terre Haute
Valparaiso