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Indiana's State Association of Food Banks

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Many Hungry Hoosiers Can’t Qualify for Federal Help

About a third of Hoosiers are often at risk of going hungry, but they aren’t eligible for federal food assistance.

According to the latest Map the Meal Gap report, 31 percent of state residents who are food insecure can’t qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of the advocacy group Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says what that means is those Indiana residents have to turn to food banks, churches and civic organizations in order to get enough to eat.

Congress is currently debating the 2018 Farm Bill and lawmakers could put more restrictions on who is eligible for SNAP.

Weikert Bryant worries how the changes she characterizes as taking an ax to SNAP will impact the state’s children, seniors and veterans who rely on it.

“For every one meal that a Feeding America affiliate distributes, and there are 200 Feeding America food banks across the country, there are 12 SNAP meals that are plugging in the gaps in that family’s food budget,” she states.

Overall food insecurity in Indiana ranges from a low of about 9 percent of the population in Hamilton County to more than 18 percent in Marion County.

The statewide average food insecurity rate is about 14 percent, which mirrors the national numbers.

The report finds there are some Indiana counties where more than half of the residents who are food insecure don’t qualify for SNAP or other nutrition programs.

Weikert Bryant says parents and caregivers are having to make some tough choices when it comes to feeding their families.

“Whether it’s buying cheap food or watering things down, which includes baby formula, all of these things come into play when a family is trying to get enough food on the table,” she points out.

There are 11 food banks in Indiana that are part of the Feeding America program. Across the nation, Feeding America provides food assistance to 46 million people who are struggling with hunger.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service (IN)

NEW DATA SHOWS HUNGRY HOOSIERS ARE INELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE

31% in Indiana Who Are Food Insecure May Only Be Able to Turn to Charitable Food Programs for Help

Indianapolis, Indiana – May 2, 2018 – Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2018, 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 2018 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Indiana. Additionally, 31% of Indiana residents who are food insecure are likely ineligible for federal nutrition assistance under current program requirements just as Congress looks at further restricting eligibility for these programs through the Farm Bill.

Overall food insecurity in Indiana ranges from a low of 8.8% of the population in Hamilton County up to 18.3% in Marion County. The statewide average food insecurity rate is 13.7%; the national average is 14%.

The analysis also finds that in four Indiana counties roughly half of the people facing hunger are unable to participate in federal nutrition programs. In Hamilton County, 59% of people struggling with hunger may not qualify for food assistance. Hamilton County also has the lowest Child Food Insecurity rate of 11.8% but 62% of those 10,260 children do not qualify to participate in programs like free or reduced school meals.

“In every county in Indiana, there are at least some food-insecure individuals whose level of income likely prevents them from qualifying for federal nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and free and reduced-priced school lunch programs,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “For these food-insecure households, the charitable food assistance network may be the only source of support, underscoring the need to protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs as Congress considers a Farm Bill.”

The eleven member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry are among the 200 food banks in the Feeding America network that collectively provides food assistance to 46 million Americans struggling with hunger.

“The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks works hard to deliver more than 4 billion meals annually to people facing hunger, yet the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves 12 meals for every one meal provided through our network,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “As Congress debates legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill, programs like SNAP must be protected and strengthened so that people facing hunger and trying to make ends meet have the essential food resources they need.”

Map the Meal Gap 2018 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, a global provider of information and insights. The study is supported by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Conagra Brands Foundation and Nielsen.

The study’s findings underscore the depth of need that remains in communities in Indiana and across the U.S., despite national measures from the USDA that indicate overall improvement. Food insecurity is a measure defined by the USDA as lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

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 2018.

This is the eighth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2018 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners, food banks and individual advocates to develop integrated strategies to fight hunger on a community level.

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 2018 on Twitter using #MealGap.

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About Feeding Indiana’s Hungry
Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, Inc. is the statewide association of Feeding America affiliated food banks.  Member food banks include:
Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Gary
Food Bank of Northern Indiana, South Bend
Food Finders Food Bank, Inc., Lafayette
Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, Ft. Wayne
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Inc., Muncie
Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, Terre Haute
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Indianapolis
Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Bloomington
Tri-State Food Bank, Inc., Evansville
Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, KY
Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati, OH

 

About Feeding America
Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through food pantries and meal programs in communities throughout America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FeedingAmerica.

Farm Bill Must Not Cut SNAP

Program Is Vital to Many Hoosiers

There’s so much that’s rewarding about working with Indiana’s Feeding America affiliate food banks and I am privileged to have the chance to help Hoosiers struggling to get by. It’s comforting to know that when people in our communities face hardship, they have somewhere to turn.

But the support our food banks provide can only go so far. Many of the people we see each day also use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help put food on their families’ tables.

SNAP has a major impact on families, seniors, and communities in our state and across the country. Here in Indiana, SNAP helped 672,000 people last year. That’s one in ten Hoosiers who has been laid off, has experienced a serious illness, or who otherwise might need a little extra help to get by in hard times. Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of the people who SNAP helps are children, seniors, or people with disabilities.

New developments in Washington could put these Hoosiers at risk.

President Trump and Congress just enacted a deeply partisan, unpopular, and harmful tax bill that gives tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations while ultimately raising taxes on millions of lower- and middle- income families and increasing the federal deficit. Now, to pay for it, some Republican leaders are saying they plan to make cuts and harmful changes to SNAP and other vital programs in the budget and Farm Bill.

As Congress works to finalize the federal budget and the Farm Bill, I hope our Indiana delegation understands how important SNAP is to our communities and fights to protect it. If SNAP is cut, food banks and pantries across the country simply won’t be able to make up the difference. SNAP cuts will mean more Hoosiers confronting poverty and hunger. SNAP cuts wouldn’t create jobs or raise anyone’s wages – they would just make it harder for struggling families to put food on the table and get back on their feet.

SNAP benefits are extremely modest, in Indiana amounting to just $1.30 per person per meal, but they make a big difference for the people who receive them. When families use SNAP to cover part of their grocery bill every month, they have more take-home pay left for rent, utilities, and other bills. SNAP is also one of the best anti-poverty programs we have, keeping 224,000 Hoosiers out of poverty every year.

Protecting SNAP isn’t just about reducing poverty now; it’s also about a better future for our children. One in four of our nation’s children uses SNAP to help get enough to eat, including 397,900 in Indiana. And research shows that people who received SNAP as young children are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to suffer from costly long-term health problems like obesity and heart disease.

SNAP also has economic benefits that extend far beyond the people the program helps directly. In fact, 5,297 businesses, including local grocery stores and retailers, see $1.07 billion pumped into our economy every year thanks to the program. A stronger economy means more jobs, higher wages, and fewer people who need to come to food banks and pantries – which is a very good thing. Cutting SNAP benefits or imposing stricter requirements on participants isn’t the way to get to these positive outcomes that we all want.

It frightens me to think that those working hard to make ends meet could face even more hardship because of decisions that our members of Congress will be making. By protecting SNAP and other critical programs, our elected officials can give our neighbors greater security and stability and a brighter future. I hope our Indiana Congressional delegation members will make the right choice.

Statement attributable to Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and co-chair of the SNAP Works for Hoosiers campaign.

Farmers are Feeding Us. No Exceptions.

Emily Weikert Bryant is the Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

On Tuesday, we celebrated National Agriculture Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Our association of food banks and its members is indebted to Hoosier agriculture as donors, partners and producers who supply what no Hoosier should have to go without – food.

Over my years of working with Indiana’s farmers, I’ve had the opportunity to tell many of them what our food banks and pantries do to help Indiana’s hungry. To a one, every farmer has told me in response that they donate to their regional food bank through programs such as the Million Meals pork purchase program with Indiana Pork.

They also work with their county Farm Bureau to supply food or funds to local organizations, provide nonperishable items for their church pantry or take extra produce from the garden to neighbors who need help. Hoosier farmers understand that they’re part of the collective agriculture community that is feeding the world – no exceptions.

For all Hoosiers, including those who get help from a USDA nutrition program, food bank or pantry, the bulk of what nourishes them comes from the grocery store and, before that, a farm. Thanks in large part to increased efficiency and productivity on U.S. farms, Americans enjoy a food supply that is abundant, affordable and safe. On average, American households spend just 6.4 percent of their annual income on food – the lowest percentage in the world.

For the nearly 1 million Hoosiers at risk of hunger, our member food banks work diligently to provide access to protein, dairy and produce through the charitable distribution that provided more than 63 million meals across Indiana last year through 11 food banks and more than 1,800 local points for distribution.

These meals come from partners and donors in retail, the USDA and some straight from farmers. But the meals the charitable sector provides are stopgap measures, a finger in the dike for many families.

As the year progresses and Congress begins more discussion and debate on the farm bill, we look forward to continued collaboration with Indiana’s agriculture organizations and our Hoosier delegation in Congress for a strong farm bill for all involved to ensure that fewer and fewer Hoosiers go hungry.

Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

As published in the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, March 22, 2018

AG Hill Kicks Off the March Against Hunger

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is partnering with the Indiana State Bar Association and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to sponsor its 10th annual March Against Hunger fund drive competition for lawyers. Since 2009, lawyers have generated 70,019 pounds of food and $378,730.69 in monetary donations.

Click here to be connected to your regional food bank to donate!

Hoosier Hunters Asked to Help Feed Hungry

There is a way for Hoosiers who love the outdoors to help those who don’t have enough to eat during the holidays.

Hunters often spend sunrise to sunset stalking deer for sport and for food, and many end up with more than they need.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund pays for deer to be processed into venison burgers, and those are then donated to local food banks.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says the people who get the donated meat are very thankful.

“A lot of Hoosiers are quite familiar with venison,” she points out. “A lot of us grew up having it for Thanksgiving or for Christmas, and so there are a lot of Hoosiers around the state who are in need of food assistance who would be really excited about the thought of having some venison for the holidays.”

In 2015, hunters donated more than 1,300 deer to food banks, providing thousands of Hoosiers with food.

Several organizations that have teamed up with Dubois County Sportsmens Club and Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry have a network of participating butcher shops throughout Indiana, and they coordinate with food banks serving every county to pick up and deliver venison.

Weikert Bryant says the venison is a good source of lean protein that many families otherwise may not be able to afford.

“And it’s something that we get donated through the food banks as far as protein, but it doesn’t always come, and it’s certainly the most expensive thing for our clients to find and pay for themselves,” she points out.

Between 2013 and 2015, Indiana hunters provided food to almost 220,000 Hoosiers.

To participate, hunters must take the deer to a participating butcher. A full list is available on the DNR’s website.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

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.