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New Leaders Urged to Make Hunger a Priority

grview-55123-1While 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.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Survey Finds 20 Percent of Hoosier Households with Children Struggle to Afford 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).

  • Indiana ranked 23 out of 49 states and the District of Columbia, with 19.8 percent of households with children in 2014-2015 reporting they were unable to afford enough food.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County (IN-KY) MSA ranked 11 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 24.4 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson MSA ranked 46 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 19.9 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA ranked 63 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 18.4 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA ranked 90 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 14.9percent for households with children in 2014-2015.

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.

Hoosiers Urged to Take Action to Stop Hunger

INDIANAPOLIS – The Hunger Action 2016 campaign is under way in Indiana and a

More than a third of Hoosiers are considered food insecure. (Virginia Carter)

More than a third of Hoosiers are considered food insecure. (Virginia Carter)

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

Hoosiers Can Take Action to End Hunger

Feeding America Network Food Banks Promote Hunger Action Month

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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.

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

15.5 Percent of Households in Indiana Struggled to Afford Enough Food in 2015

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:

  • 15.5 percent in the state in 2015 said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • For MSAs including parts of Indiana, the food hardship rate for 2014-2015 was:
    • 19.0 percent for Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN;
    • 17.2 percent for Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN;
    • 17.2 percent for Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN;
    • 15.3 percent for Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI.

“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.

Summer Meals Closing the Hunger Gap for Children in Indiana

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.

Ending the Senior SNAP Gap

About a quarter of Indiana's seniors live in a household with other family members, including children. (Virginia Carter)

About a quarter of Indiana’s seniors live in a household with other family members, including children. (Virginia Carter)

More than 7 million, or 40 percent, of seniors eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have not applied, and the numbers are even lower in the Hoosier State. During Older Americans Month, the National Council on Aging has an effort under way to close the “SNAP Gap,” to get those folks access to healthier food, instead of relying on food banks. Thirteen percent of Indiana’s food-bank clients are more than 60 years old.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry says many seniors aren’t getting healthy food they need because they just can’t afford it.

“Seventy-seven percent of them know that they’re buying cheaper and unhealthy food because it’s what they are able to afford,” she said. “About half of them are receiving help from family and friends when they’re able. About a quarter of them are actually gardening or growing food in a community garden to offset that.”

Weikert Bryant says a quarter of Indiana households have one family member who’s over 60, and many of those homes have small children as well. The average amount a senior who does collect SNAP gets just $110 a month. She says that means they have just over a dollar to spend on each meal.

“A large number of them are also doing things like watering down their food or drink, and 29 percent of older adults are selling or pawning personal property,” she added. “Forty-six percent are receiving help from friends.”

Many seniors face barriers because they don’t have a computer or transportation to sign up for benefits, and many think they aren’t eligible. Weikert Bryant says we should pitch in and help them.

“They’ve worked hard their entire careers, they’re in a position where they might need help, they’re most decidedly in a position where they’ve earned that help,” she said. “So we want to make sure that they have that nutrition that’s enabling them to live healthier and longer lives to stay in their homes and stay active in their communities.”

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN

Join the Conversation During Older Americans Month to #SolveSeniorHunger

May is OldSenior SNAP_USAer Americans Month! The appreciation month for seniors is an annual event dating back to
1963 when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month. It was later renamed Older Americans Month (OAM) and every president since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation that the entire nation pay tribute to older persons and their contributions to our communities.

The 2016 OAM theme is Blaze a Trail. The Administration for Community Living is raising awareness about important issues facing older adults and highlight the ways that older Americans are advocating for themselves, their peers and their communities.

The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks serves seven million seniors, the 1 in 12 seniors who face hunger in our country. Additionally, nearly 750,000 seniors volunteer each month at Feeding America network food pantries and meal programs across the country.

Food insecurity is particularly detrimental to seniors because of their unique nutritional needs related to aging and medical conditions. As such, we know seniors facing hunger are at increased risk for chronic health conditions like depression (60%), heart attack (53%), asthma (52%) and congestive heart failure (40%).

Through thoughtful and innovative programs designed to address the special and unique challenges that seniors face, the Feeding America network provides 563 million meals to seniors (age 60+) each year.

Charitable food assistance alone cannot solve senior hunger. The federal nutrition programs that reach seniors, including SNAP, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and senior congregate and home-delivered meals are critical supports for low-income seniors facing hunger.

This year, Feeding America and partner organizations have come together to shine a light on the fact that seniors, more than any other age group, do not take advantage of SNAP benefits. Nationally, only 41 percent of seniors who are eligible to receive SNAP are actually enrolled in the program, compared to the larger population where 83 percent of individuals who are eligible are taking advantage of benefits. In Indiana it’s even lower; only 33 percent of eligible seniors are participating in SNAP. During Older Americans Month 2016, we’re joining together to help #SolveSeniorHunger by closing the Senior SNAP Gap. Senior SNAP gap state-level information is available thanks to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Together, we can give back to those who have given us so much of their time, hard work and wisdom. Join us in raising awareness for older Americans who struggle with hunger, so we can work toward solving senior hunger.

You can get involved in Older Americans Month in four key ways:

  • Join the #SolveSeniorHunger conversation by sharing stories of senior hunger
  • Share your state’s Senior SNAP Gap data to spread the word
  • Tweet or message your Members of Congress to help close the Senior SNAP Gap
  • Take a Solve Senior Hunger selfie and post it to social media with #SolveSeniorHunger to show your support

Visit org/SolveSeniorHunger to learn more about the issue and find resources to help raise awareness.

Hunger Study Finds Food Insecurity Levels Remain Historically High

                           According to Study, 15% of Hoosiers Struggle with Hunger

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Feeding Indiana’s Hungry announced the release of Map the Meal Gap 2016, an annual study by Feeding America that details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the United States. The study reveals that 15 percent of the population in Indiana is food insecure – 1,009,710 people, including 335,410 children.

Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Using county data from the five-year period of 2010 to 2014, Map the Meal Gap 2016 is the first Map the Meal Gap report with post-Great Recession county food-insecurity estimates.

“Map the Meal Gap shares data about the prevalence of hunger in our community,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director at Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This information allows our member food banks to better understand the need and work with partners, donors, and stakeholders, to help close that gap.”

This year’s report found that nearly 15 percent or approximately one in seven people in the United States struggles with hunger at some point during the year. While the rate has decreased since 2011, the prevalence of food insecurity across counties remains historically high since 2008, and has not yet returned to pre-Great Recession levels.

Key local findings:
• The county with the lowest overall food insecurity remains Hamilton County at 9.4 percent or an estimated 27,150 individuals.
• The highest level of food insecurity is in Marion County at 19.4 percent or an estimated 177,940 individuals.
• The highest child food insecurity rate is found in Fayette County at 26.1 percent or an estimated 1,430.
• The lowest child food insecurity rate is found in Hamilton County at 13.5 percent, or an estimated 11,470 children.
• 32 percent of Indiana’s food insecure have income above 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and are being served only by charitable hunger relief efforts as they are ineligible for federal nutrition programs.
Map the Meal Gap 2016 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, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity.

“This new research documents the pervasiveness of hunger in every community in our nation. While the economy has improved and unemployment rates have declined, many people are still struggling to access adequate amounts of nutritious food for their families,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America.

The study is supported by founding sponsor The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, ConAgra Foods Foundation and Nielsen. The lead researcher is 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. This is the sixth consecutive year that Feeding America has conducted the Map the Meal Gap study.

The Map the Meal Gap 2016 interactive map allows policymakers, state agencies, corporate partners 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 www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.

Join the conversation about Map the Meal Gap 2016 on Twitter using #MealGap.