Feeding Indiana's Hungry

Indiana's State Association of Food Banks

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BILLS TO HELP HUNGRY HOOSIERS BEING HEARD THIS MONTH

 

Thousands of Hoosiers aren't getting enough to eat because they can't qualify for SNAP benefits.

Thousands of Hoosiers aren’t getting enough to eat because they can’t qualify for SNAP benefit. Indiana lawmakers are tackling a couple of bills this short legislative session that have to do with the access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says there are thousands of Hoosiers without enough food because they can’t get help.

Indiana law says anyone convicted of a drug offense is not eligible to collect SNAP benefits regardless of how little money they have. Bryant says many of them are mothers just being released from jail.

“They may be taking custody of their children, they may be trying to keep their families together, but they can’t get access to enough food to feed their families and it has a definite impact of family stability,” she says.

House Bill 1078 would remove the stipulation that anyone convicted of drug offenses would not be allowed to receive SNAP benefits. Another bill that may come up next week is Senate Bill 377. It would remove some of the restrictions placed on people about how much money they can have saved up in order to qualify for the SNAP program.

Bryant says right now a family can’t have more than $2,250 in assets. That excludes their home, pension benefits or life insurance policies.

“Problem with that is it discourages families from saving,” she says. “And helping them move themselves out of poverty and into self sufficiency.”

Bryant says food banks and pantries across Indiana feed 1.1 million people a year. She says providing food to the needy means they don’t have to make a choice of using what little money they have to eat, or to keep the heat on in their homes.

“If a family has access to SNAP benefits, which are spent only on food, it frees up some of their other income to be able to pay that utility bill or to pay that rent,” Bryant says.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

 

Effort Under Way to Rid Indiana of “Food Deserts”

More than 23 million Americans don't have quick access to healthy food, but legislation in Indiana aims to change that. (Veronica Carter)

More than 23 million Americans don’t have quick access to healthy food, but legislation in Indiana aims to change that. (Veronica Carter)

January 13, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has many areas where residents live 10 or more miles from a supermarket that sells fresh food and Indianapolis has been named the worst in the nation for these so-called “food deserts.”

Logansport Sen. Randy Head has authored a bill to give grants to businesses that want to sell healthier choices. He says it will help eliminate food deserts.

“For instance, if a convenience store wants to get coolers to offer fresh produce, this kind of thing would help them buy the coolers,” says Head. “They’ll be evaluated annually to make sure they’re doing what they say they’re going to do with the money and it’s got a claw-back in it, so if they’re not doing what they say they’re going to be doing or what they should be doing with it, they owe all that money back to the state.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says more than 23 million Americans live at least 10 miles away from supermarkets that offer fresh meat, dairy and produce, and more than half of those people are low-income.

Head says food deserts can be found all over the state, and they’re not just in the cities.

“You know, when people hear the term ‘food desert’ they automatically think of urban, but in Indiana and Illinois as well, a lot of food deserts are rural,” he says. “We’ve got them all over the state of Indiana, in many different types of communities.”

Senate Bill 15 requires the funds be used for equipment, infrastructure or property. Head says it’s based on a program in Pennsylvania where for every dollar invested, the grants resulted in $1.50 of economic development and improved quality of life in communities.

University of Arkansas Professor Randy Nayga is doing research in his state on children who live in food deserts. He says their average Body Mass Index is higher than kids from homes closer to stores that offer fresh food. He says researchers are looking at which stores children lived near, and also whether they have a chance to play outdoors and get exercise, because that matters, too.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Be An Angel This Holiday: Donate Nutrient-Rich Milk For Hoosier Kids

The Great American Milk Drive makes it easy to deliver fresh milk to Indiana’s food banks to make the season brighter for families in need

For many of us, the holidays aren’t complete without milk and cookies or a cozy cup of hot cocoa. But families in need in your community may be missing out on milk and its nine essential nutrients this

Young cute boy holding his sippy cup

holiday season.

More than 48 million Americans – including 1.1 million Hoosiers – struggle with food insecurity. That’s why The Great American Milk Drive is helping to make the season brighter for families facing hunger with the gift of nutrient-rich milk. Milk isn’t just a drink—it’s a nutrient powerhouse providing 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein in each 8 ounce serving.

You can be an angel for a family in need in Indiana and help to deliver a gallon of milk, including its high-quality protein, when you support of The Great American Milk Drive this season. Visit Walmart this holiday season and purchase any 2 bags of M&M’s candies (9.4oz or larger) and up to a gallon of milk will be donated to The Great American Milk Drive.

“Walmart is dedicated to fighting to end hunger in our communities, and the holiday season is the perfect time for you to join the effort,” said Kevin Thompson. “When you pick items for your family at your local Walmart store, consider donating a gallon of milk to a local family in need, too.”

Food Banks Wishing For More Milk This Holiday Season

On average, food bank clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year, leaving many families with limited access to milk’s essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein.

The Great American Milk Drive is the first-ever national program to help deliver highly desired and nutrient-rich gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most. To date, more than 6.7 million servings of milk have been delivered as part of The Great American Milk Drive and Feeding America’s commitment to help families get much-desired nutrient-rich milk.

“Milk is the top food source of three of the nutrients most likely to be missing in the American diet – calcium, vitamin D and potassium,” said Deb Osza, General Manager of the American Dairy Association of Indiana.  “That’s why, during the holidays we are focused on making the season brighter for hungry families in our communities with the gift of nutrient-rich milk.”

Donations are also accepted at milklife.com/give, and for as little as $5 at milklife.com/give, you can be an angel for a family in need in your community by helping to deliver a gallon of milk to their table. By entering your zip code, you can ensure that the milk is delivered to a local Feeding America member food bank in your area.

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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 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across 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 www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

 

About MilkPEP

The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), Washington, D.C., is funded by the nation’s milk companies, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The MilkPEP Board runs the Milk Life campaign, a multi-faceted campaign designed to educate consumers about the powerful nutritional benefits of milk – with 9 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, in each 8 ounce glass. For more information, go to milklife.com. Campbell Ewald is creative agency for the Milk Life campaign – from America’s milk companies.

About National Dairy Council

National Dairy Council (NDC), the non-profit organization funded by the national dairy checkoff program, is committed to nutrition education and research-based communications. NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. Established in 1915, NDC comprises a staff of registered dietitians and nutrition research and communications experts across the country. NDC has taken a leadership role in promoting child health and wellness through programs such as Fuel Up to Play 60. Developed by NDC and the National Football League (NFL), Fuel Up to Play 60 encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. For more information, visit www.NationalDairyCouncil.org  or follow @NtlDairyCouncil on Twitter.

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

We’ve Moved!

Effective November 3rd, our offices are located at 8425 Keystone Crossing Suite 220A, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240.

 

 

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Recognized in the 2015 Annual Good Food Org Guide

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry was chosen by Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation for their exemplary work in creating a fairer and more sustainable food system. 

 

The James Beard Foundation (www.jamesbeard.org) and Food Tank (www.foodtank.com), along with a prestigious advisory group of more than 70 food system experts, developed the second annual Good Food Org Guide featuring nearly 1,000 food related nonprofits across the United States, including Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

The first annual 2014 Good Food Org Guide was released as the definitive guide to organizations—national and state-by-state—who are making an impact with their work. The 2014 Guide was viewed and downloaded by more than 100,000 individuals.

This year’s guide will be released at the James Beard Food Conference on October 19, 2015. The list was determined by distinguished experts, including past recipients of the James Beard Leadership Award and food and agriculture leaders.

This year’s guide has tripled in size and includes new features such as categories and an online interactive mapping and search tool. This brand new website (www.goodfoodorgguide.com) allows users to search by keyword, location, and category in order to explore the organizations they are most interested in. Every organization has its own unique profile page including contact information, description, logo, social media links, directions, and photos.

ABOUT FOOD TANK

Food Tank (www.FoodTank.com) is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. We research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

ABOUT JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION

The James Beard Foundation is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City. The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. These programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications.

Updated SNAP Income Eligibility Guidelines Now Available

Each federal fiscal year (October 1-September 30), the United States Department of Agriculture publishes new income eligibility guidelines for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program based on the snapfederal poverty guidelines.

Find a flyer here to print and share with clients explaining the application process and containing the updated income guidelines.

FSSA Announces EBT Temporary System Outage

Temporary outage of the Hoosier Works EBT system on Saturday night September 26th and Sunday morning September 27th

Information courtesy of Indiana FSSA, EBT Temporary System Outage

Why is there going to be an EBT system outage?

The Hoosier Works Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system will be conducting a system transition on Saturday night, September 26, at 11:00 p.m. EDT causing a temporary system outage. Hoosier Works is the system Indiana uses to deliver Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. This outage affects all SNAP/TANF EBT cardholders.ebt

Our current provider, JP Morgan Chase, has decided to get out of the business of providing EBT card services. Therefore, Indiana must move our EBT business to a new provider (Xerox), and making that change requires a temporary system outage.

Will I be able to use my EBT card?

During the temporary system outage, EBT cardholders will not be able to make SNAP purchases or access TANF benefits at any grocery stores or ATMs. EBT cardholders should plan to do their grocery shopping and/or make cash withdrawals before or after the transition period. SNAP and TANF benefits are expected to be available Sunday afternoon, September 27, 12:30 p.m. EDT after the system transition is complete.

Will my benefits change?

No. All SNAP and TANF  benefits will remain the same.

Will I be getting a new EBT card?

No. SNAP/TANF clients will continue to use their current EBT cards after the transition.

Will my PIN for my EBT card change?

No. The PIN will remain the same for all EBT cardholders.

Will the system transition change where I can use my card?

The system transition will not change where EBT cards can be used. After the transition is complete, TANF recipients will be able to withdraw cash benefits at ATMs with the Quest logo. If the ATM charges a surcharge, the fees will be stated by the ATM before being deducted.

Will the customer service website change?

Yes. The new customer website will be www.ebt.acs-inc.com. However, the customer service phone number will remain 1-877-768-5098.

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. 

Food Insecurity Rises Slightly in Indiana, While Declining Nationally

1 in 7 Hoosier Households Struggled with Hunger in 2014

Household Food Security research released today by the USDA Economic Research Service illustrates no significant improvement in reducing food insecurity in Indiana. One in seven Hoosier households struggled with hunger on average in the years 2012-2014.

Corporate Photo Female client selects takes grains rolls Ramen bread Weight Watchers out of a box outside outdoor pantry many clients

The report found that 14.6 percent of Hoosiers now live in food insecure households, up from 14.1 percent in 2013. The national household food insecurity rate declined from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 14.0 percent in 2014.

“While the needle seems to be fluctuating, no real improvement is being made to ensure that Hoosier families have enough food to remain healthy and active,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Across the nation, households outside metropolitan areas (more rural areas) are seeing considerably deeper struggles with hunger compared to those inside metropolitan areas, with higher rates of food insecurity (17.1 percent compared to 13.5 percent), higher rates of food insecurity in households with children (23.6 percent compared to 18.4 percent), and higher rates of very low food security (7.3 percent compared to 5.3 percent).

The report also captured rates of very low food security, when households reported disrupted eating patterns or hunger due to inadequate resources for food on multiple occasions during the year. It found that 6.4 percent of Hoosiers lived in households with very low food security last year, above the national average of 5.6 percent.

“More than 1 million Hoosiers rely on our emergency food network, which continues to set new records in food distribution, but this will not solve the problem,” said Bryant. “Our nation can solve hunger. The federal nutrition programs are among the most effective tools in ensuring people of all ages get the food they need to be active and healthy.  We’re urging our elected leaders to keep these programs strong, and that starts with a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill this fall.”