Feeding Indiana's Hungry

Indiana's State Association of Food Banks

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Category: Farms to Food Banks

2017 State Legislative Agenda Gaining Momentum

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.

Farm to Table: Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

Indiana farmers are being asked to sell surplus or blemished produce to food banks. (Virginia Carter)

Indiana farmers are being asked to sell surplus or blemished produce to food banks. (Virginia Carter)

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.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Indiana Farmers Humbly Helping Neighbors

Indiana farmers are doing their part to help keep people from going hungry during the holidays. Credit: pippalou/morguefile

Indiana farmers are doing their part to help keep people from going hungry during the holidays. Credit: pippalou/morguefile

November 25, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS – A big Thanksgiving dinner isn’t always possible for the one in six Indiana residents who struggle with hunger. Farmers around the state are doing their part to help keep Hoosiers from going hungry during the holidays and year-round.

Indiana is home to nearly 60,000 farms, and Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said that every producer she has met is providing for the less fortunate.

“When I explain what our organization does and what food banks do, and how many Hoosiers we’re feeding,” she said, “it’s just heartwarming that, two to one, they’re working to do something to help people who are at risk of hunger.”

The state’s network of food pantries and meal service programs provide food for slightly more than 1 million people each year. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry works with farm organizations including the Indiana Pork Producers, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana’s Family of Farmers and the Indiana Vegetable Growers’ Association to distribute donations.

Mike Smolek, who raises pigs in White County and donates meat from about 30 animals each year to a local food pantry, said he feels that farmers typically are not looking for recognition.

“We were raised humbly,” he said. “We do a lot of stuff without the publicity because we see that it needs to be done, and there’s not a farm or person I know that’s involved with agriculture that would not help out somebody in any given situation.”

Weikert Bryant said it isn’t just the big operations that are helping their neighbors.

“I was speaking with a couple from Northeast Indiana who grow a couple of acres of sweet corn,” she said. “If someone is in need of food assistance, the township trustee sends them to their couple of acres of sweet corn to glean what their family can use. So, farmers are not just feeding those of us who can afford it, they’re feeding everyone.”

While the holidays are a time when people often focus on the hungry, she urged year-round involvement – by donating food or volunteering at a local after-school program or food pantry.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – IN

Indiana State Poultry Association Donates Over 73 Tons to Indiana Food Banks

 

Source: Indiana State Poultry Association  ISPA

Lt. Governor Sue Ellsperman joined representatives of the Indiana State Poultry Association to celebrate the donation of over 73 tons (146,000 pounds) of poultry products to food banks across Indiana for distribution to hungry Hoosier families today.  This donation of high protein meat and eggs is always appreciated by the food pantries that feed the hungry throughout the state. The current donation alone provides hundreds of thousands of highly nutritious meals to Hoosier families.

Monday’s donation is the continuation of a tradition that has endured for over 68 years. This is a tradition which marks the generosity of Indiana’s poultry producers that the Indiana State Poultry Association and its members plan to continue for many years to come.

Although these producers donate this enormous amount annually for this event, it is only a small portion of the total amount that the poultry industry donates throughout the year.  Over the past twelve months, the Indiana poultry industry has donated over 96,000 dozen eggs, and 250 tons (551,000 pounds) of poultry meat and egg products to local food banks throughout Indiana.  Over the past ten years, the poultry industry has contributed more than a 1.2 pounds, about 600 tons of Indiana poultry products.

The poultry industry knows just how important it is to continually support food banks who sustain individuals and families during their times of need.  Food banks always require help keeping their shelves filled, especially during the holidays.

Members of the Indiana State Poultry Association produce over 95% of Indiana’s chicken, turkey, duck and eggs. Indiana is the number one duck producing state, ranks third in egg production, third in turkey production, and raises millions of broiler chickens each year.  The Indiana poultry industry supports over 7,000 Hoosier jobs, contributing over $4.25 billion dollars annually to Indiana’s economy.

 

Ugly Produce Becomes a Life Line for Food Banks

What are you doing for Hunger Action Month? Consider supporting farm to food bank programs as they expand across the United States to new heights.

September is Hunger Action Month around the United States, and while many consumers know plenty of grocery stores and food banks that donate for hunger relief, the farm to food bank efforts can also be phenomenal at feeding those in need. As food insecurity has increased in the U.S. in recent years, farm to food bank programs have been expanding around the country to recover hundreds of millions of surplus and so called “ugly” (mishappen but perfectly delicious and nutritious) produce for those in need. There are now more than 10 farm to food bank programs in the U.S., with the newest from Feeding Indiana’s Hungry begining on July 1st.

What is a farm to food bank program? While the programs all have different features and drivers, the main goal is to enable food banks and pantries to pay significantly below market prices for produce surplus and produce seconds, or ugly produce. Produce that would have otherwise gone uneaten, in essence: wasted, due to market conditions or cosmetic standards. And with the large expansion of fresh produce offerings at food banks and pantries in recent years, farm to food bank programs are now more important than ever.

For ugly produce advocates, getting large grocers to sell ugly produce in the U.S. is the number one goal so that massive produce waste is put on notice. However, there is another side to the billions of pounds of ugly and surplus produce that’s going wasted every year, and that is the potential for produce to instead reach those in need. And the best (or worst) part is that there is so much produce wasted that there is more than enough to be sold in most grocery stores and reach most food banks and pantries in large quantities.

While grocers are largely sitting on the sidelines in this massive food waste fight against ugly and surplus produce, food banks and farmers are certainly not. The latest example of farmers joining this fight is Feeding Indiana’s Hungry program, which receives US$300,000 allocated by the state legislature annually to help fund the farm to food bank program. The funding enables food banks to buy fresh produce significantly below wholesale value.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIH) Executive Director, Emily Weikert Bryant says that the program has been going very well in its early stage as producers are contacting FIH with requests. One of the first large recoveries was for over 900 watermelons that were surplus and would have gone uneaten, but instead, made their way to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana.

In California, where 50 percent of the country’s produce is grown, the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) Farm to Family program recovers 140 million pounds of produce a year. This produce then goes to 40 different food banks that partner with over 5,000 food pantries. While there is some financial support from foundations and donations, as with the FIH program and others, the CAFB program is mostly supported by modest program fees to farmers.

In addition to those fees, tax credits are also quite helpful in California (and some other states). Some growers can see up to US$60,000 in tax credits each year, according to CAFB Farm to Family Program Coordinator Steve Linkhart.

The CAFB program has plenty of room to grow as only 120 of the approximently 30,000 growers in California participate. And other programs around the country have room to grow as well, as there is still billions of pounds of produce left uneaten before the store each year. Please support Farm to Food Bank programs in IndianaCaliforniaKentucky, or wherever they exist this Hunger Action Month and the other 11 months of the year because they are truly making beautiful things happen with ugly produce.

Find out more about the growing “ugly” produce movement at my social media campaign @UglyFruitAndVeg on TwitterInstagramFacebook and now on Pinterest as well.