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SNAP Work Requirements Back for Some Hoosiers

by Mary Kuhlman, Indiana Public News Service

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INDIANAPOLIS – About 50,000 Hoosiers could lose food assistance in the next few months if they do 150629-FA-MI-0898not meet work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

A federal waiver that allowed adults without dependents to forgo work requirements during the recession is expiring.

Terry Mayo, SNAP outreach coordinator with Indiana 211, says in order to get enrolled and into compliance, recipients must have an in-person assessment.

“It’s crucial they be in contact with IMPACT so that they can work with them,” she says. “They want to keep them from getting their benefits discontinued, so they want to make sure that they’re plugging in and it’s documented they’re plugged into what they’re supposed to be.”

Indiana Manpower and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) provides education, training, job search and placement to help SNAP recipients get back on their feet.

The change affects those on food assistance between the ages of 18 and 49 who are not receiving disability benefits and do not have children. Appointment notices were sent in the mail, and recipients need to call the Family and Social Services Administration for missed appointments.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the state’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in July, the lowest it has been since before the recession. But Jessica Fraser, program manager with the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says there are still many residents without work or in low-wage jobs who need help making ends meet.

“They can’t find good jobs that pull them up out of this problem,” she says. “The fact that SNAP provides employment and training opportunities is an opportunity for these folks to go in there, get these appointments, get assessed and maybe get on a training plan that could lead to self-sufficiency.”

The work requirements for SNAP include opportunities through the Community Work Experience Program, which places clients into unpaid jobs or volunteer opportunities. Fraser says this allows participants to gain work experience and employment skills.

The phone number for the Family and Social Services Administration is 800-403-0864.

Number of Americans Struggling to Afford Food Declines Significantly, Little Change for Hoosiers

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Analysis by Food Research & Action Center

Download First Half of 2015 Food Hardship Rate by State (pdf).

The impact of the economic recovery plus the increased share of households in need that is receiving SNAP (food stamps) is showing positive results, based on evidence from the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey (pdf) that reveals a declining number of families struggling to afford food. The analysis of the Gallup survey was conducted by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Such families are described by FRAC as experiencing food hardship.

For the last seven years the Gallup organization has been asking large numbers of American households “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?” Nationally, 15.8 percent of survey respondents in the first half of 2015 answered “yes.” This is a drop from the 17.1 percent who replied “yes” in 2014.

The trend in the national data was reflected as well in the state-by-state survey findings for the first half of 2015.

Compared to the 2014 annual data, several states saw a statistically significant decline in food hardship in the first half of 2015. These states included Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Food hardship rates in the other 33 states with survey findings (several other states did not have adequate sample sizes to report any findings) generally either remained at the same rate as 2014 or, more typically, declined but by an amount that was within the margin of error.

Indiana’s rate decreased marginally, from 17 percent in 2014 to 16 percent for the first half of 2015.

The food hardship rates are the lowest since Gallup began collecting data in 2008. In the first few months of 2008, the food hardship rate was 16.7 percent or lower, but the deepening recession pushed the rate up so much that in most of the five and a half years beginning in July 2008 the monthly rate was 18 percent or higher — reaching as high as 20 percent in some months.

Today, there are many key factors at play that are resulting in fewer Americans struggling to put food on the table. As the economy continues to improve, unemployment numbers continue to fall. Meanwhile, federal nutrition programs buoy this positive trajectory. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), for instance, is helping to meet the nutritional needs of people who are out-of-work as well as those who are transitioning to employment and/or to jobs with better wages. Since the recession hit, the growth in the rate of SNAP participation, even as the number of eligible people grew, kept hunger in America from getting even worse.

While progress is being made, it is important to note that the current rate of food hardship is still far too high, and still unacceptable. There are large proportions of children, adults and families in every state who face a daily struggle with hunger.

We are at a critical crossroads in determining how we will assist the most vulnerable among us. This fall, federal child nutrition programs—such as school breakfast, school lunch, afterschool meals and summer meals — are set for reauthorization. Other safety net programs from SNAP to low-income tax credits to Social Security Disability Insurance to Medicaid are under attack in the budget process.

This is the right time for our representatives to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring our nation’s struggling families have the nutrition they need to stay healthy and that children can stay active and perform well in school. As for SNAP, it continues to do its job as the first line of defense against hunger, but the monthly benefits still do not meet the need. If we are to build on the progress made, Congress must protect and strengthen SNAP, the child nutrition programs, and other key elements of the safety net.

Indiana Farms to Food Banks Program Launches

 by Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service (IN)
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INDIANAPOLIS – An effort to get more fresh produce on the tables of struggling Hoosiers is coming to fruition.

The Farms to Food Banks program is kicking off this summer. It allows food banks to purchase surplus or number-two grade produce at below market rates from local growers.

Bob White, a retail agriculture business specialist with the Indiana Farm Bureau, says it will solve the grview-47354-1 (1)dilemma many farmers face when they don’t know what to do with extra produce.

“It may be sweet corn in season or it may be greens, whatever the case may be,” White explains. “The local food bank can then purchase that food and distribute it within 24 hours so it doesn’t really go to waste.”

There is a price list for 25 items food banks may purchase, with a set price per unit. Interested farmers may contact a local food bank, or Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Some $300,000 per year was made available in the state budget to get the program going.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says some food banks already receive surplus produce from area farmers, but typically it’s in the form of a donation. She says the program is a win-win because farmers will get paid, and food banks will have better quality produce.

“We’re getting product that is going to be fresher than most of the produce we receive,” she points out. “It’s coming from closer, so we know that it’s not been sitting on a truck somewhere for some time, and it’s coming from Indiana farmers, and so we’re able bring that fresh produce to serve the folks that are visiting our food banks and our pantries.”

Food banks in Indiana serve more than 1 million clients a year, clients who will now have better access to healthy, nutritious foods.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Mourns the Passing of Founder Jane Avery

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry staff and board of directors are deeply saddened at the passing of Jane Avery,

Jane Avery introducing Feeding Indiana's Hungry  on Hunger Day in 2005.

Jane Avery introducing Feeding Indiana’s Hungry on Hunger Day in 2005.

CEO of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana in Ft. Wayne. A tireless and passionate advocate for Indiana’s food banks and the Hoosiers they serve, Avery’s efforts more than a decade ago led to the founding of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the state association of food banks.

Avery joined Community Harvest in July, 1996, where she quickly became known as an innovative leader in the food bank community. In 1999, Avery created the Community Cupboard as an on-site pantry at the food bank. Here she recreated the look and feel of a small town grocery store. Clients were given a grocery cart and permitted to select items favored by that family. The new style pantry was the first of its kind among national food banks and eventually other food banks mimicked what Avery first created in Fort Wayne. In 2005, Community Harvest was recognized as the food bank of the year by Second Harvest (now Feeding America), the nation’s largest hunger relief organization.

Still leading the way in food banking, Avery recently created the first blanch and freeze operation among national food banks. Vegetables readily available in the summer will be preserved and then distributed on a year round basis from a facility to open later this summer.

Always thinking about the big picture, Avery researched a statewide food bank association as part of her studies in her Masters in Business Administration program. Shortly after completing the research project, her work attracted the attention of then gubernatorial candidate Mitch Daniels. Shortly after Governor Daniels took office, Avery worked with then Lt. Governor Becky Skillman and other Indiana food bank directors to create Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. Avery since has served on the board of directors of the organization, often in leadership capacities, in addition to her responsibilities at Community Harvest Food Bank. Through her leadership, energy, and persistence, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry steadily grew and evolved from a graduate school project to a trusted resource for policymakers and partner for agriculture and anti-hunger groups in the state.

“Jane Avery was a true crusader against hunger. It was impossible to talk to her without learning something about food banking, hunger, charity, or life, always leaving the conversation with a renewed sense of commitment to alleviating hunger. Her tenacity, dedication, and humor will be missed by anyone who has crossed her path. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jane’s family and her extended family at Community Harvest,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Indiana State Bar Association announces winners of March Against Hunger competition

MAH star logoThe Indiana State Bar Association Service Committee, in coordination with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH), today announced the winners for this year’s March Against Hunger food drive competition. The following winners from each of the six divisions will receive the “Attorney General’s Cup” trophy at a local recognition event later this month:

  • Sole Proprietor – Steven Douglas Law Office, Ellettsville
    ($1,170 monetary donations)
  • Small Firm (2-11 persons) – Wilson Kehoe Winingham, Indianapolis
    ($1,180 monetary donations; 191 pounds of food)
  • Medium Firm (12-21 persons) – Wilkinson Goeller Modesitt Wilkinson & Drummy, Terre Haute
    ($2,445 monetary donations)
  • Large Firm (22-49 persons) – Burke Costanza & Carberry, Merrillville
    ($4,302.70 monetary donations; 257 pounds of food)
  • X-Large Firm (50+ persons) – Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend & Elkhart offices
    ($13,670 monetary donations; 417 pounds of food)
  • Public/Non-Profit/Local Bar – Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office, Evansville
    ($3,000 monetary donations; 1,690 pounds of food)

“The lawyers in Indiana have always championed the March Against Hunger food drive competition and this year was no exception, raising more monetary donations and non-perishable food items than in previous years,” ISBA President Jeff R. Hawkins said. “I know that helping others is an emotionally rewarding experience and I’m proud of my profession’s participation.”

This year’s March Against Hunger food drive competition took place March 1-31 and included 39 participants statewide, generating 10,105 pounds of food and $50,228.20 in monetary donations. Since 2009, the food drive has generated a total of 62,459 pounds of food and $282,027.91 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks. Click here for a list of all 2015 participants.

“March Against Hunger is a great tradition that inspires a culture of serving and of giving back that helps put food on the table for many struggling families in our state,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. “Thank you to the Indiana State Bar Association and law firms – big and small – that made this effort a priority and have helped grow this program year after year. Your generosity makes our Hoosier communities stronger.”

“We are grateful for the participation and generosity of so many attorneys, as well as for the leadership of Attorney General Zoeller and the Indiana State Bar Association to raise awareness of hunger,” FIsH Executive Director Emily Weikert Bryant said. “Our food banks are serving one in six Hoosiers who are at risk of hunger; that’s more than one million people. The food and funds contributed though the March Against Hunger drive this year will provide much-needed assistance to those in our communities who continue to struggle with hunger.”

First Lady’s Charity Awards Gift to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

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This year, $65,000 will go to Feed Indiana’s Hungry; smaller grants will help other groups
By: Maureen C. Gilmer, IndyStar

Not long after her husband became governor of Indiana in 2013, Karen Pence quietly set about establishing a charity that would touch all 92 counties.

Part of the reason was because, as first lady, she was inundated with requests from groups seeking her support.

“I found that I just was saying no to all these fabulous causes,” Pence said during an interview last week at the governor’s residence.

She couldn’t take them all on, but she could find a way to help as many as possible.

The Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation awarded $165,000 in grants to groups and individuals in 68 counties last year. All are working to help children and families in Indiana. The biggest chunk — $100,000 — went to Riley Hospital for Children’s Art Therapy initiative.

Eighty-three smaller grants of $500 or $1,000 were awarded, and representatives were invited to awards ceremonies at the governor’s residence throughout the year.

“It’s pretty amazing that there are so many organizations in Indiana that just come alongside (people) and do what they can. It’s always very uplifting,” Pence said.

The money is raised through the annual First Lady’s Luncheon, which attracted 600-plus people last week to the JW Marriott. Josh Kaufman, winner of “The Voice” last year, entertained, and women in the crowd received specially designed handbags made by The Farmer’s Wife.

Each bag was stuffed with a First Lady’s Cookbook, an Indiana-shaped cutting board, seed packets and note cards with an image of a watercolor painted by Pence herself. Some also received bottles of honey harvested from a beehive at the governor’s residence.

This year, the foundation awarded a grant of $65,000 to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, which dovetails with the luncheon theme of Hoosier Home Grown, focusing on the state’s rich food heritage. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry supports 11 food banks in the state, which support food pantries in all counties.

Among those attending the luncheon were former first lady Judy O’Bannon, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, state treasurer Kelly Mitchell, state auditor Suzanne Crouch and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

Pence got the idea for a first lady’s lunch from a friend who was active in planning a similar event in Washington, D.C., but Indiana’s first lady wanted to take the money raised and give it to organizations and individuals doing good work around the state.

“I can’t be your spokesperson or head your gala, but apply for a grant and we will at least do something to support your organization. That’s how it all started,” she said.

She remembers one little boy who attended a recent awards ceremony, during which groups helping children with cancer were recognized.

“This little guy here was about 8. He brought his jar … of beads and he said, ‘Every time I got a treatment, I got a bead for my jar.’ His jar was full. That was heartbreaking,” she said.

She hands out her card promoting the grants to everyone she can because she wants to make sure every county is touched by the foundation.

“We started the foundation to shine a light on the people and organizations that are working every day to benefit our children and Hoosier families,” she said. “We want to hit all 92 counties. We don’t hold on to money; we give it all away.”

Survey Finds 17 Percent of Households in Indiana Struggle to Afford Food

Data Underscores Need to Protect and Improve Partnerships for Nutrition Assistance

Nearly one in six Hoosier households – 17 percent of respondent142618.Klein.Augusta-7375s – reported in 2014 they struggled to afford enough food for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

How Hungry is America? 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). The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 17.2 percent in 2014.

The report’s Food Hardship Index reveals:

  • Indiana ranked 21 out of 50 states, with 17.0 percent in the state in 2014 reporting they were unable to afford enough food. In the previous report of 2012 data, Indiana was ranked 18th with a food hardship rate of 20.4.
  • Louisville‐Jefferson County, KY‐IN ranked 15 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 21.4 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Cincinnati‐Middletown, OH‐KY‐IN ranked 35 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 19.6 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Indianapolis‐Carmel, IN ranked 52 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 18.6 percent for 2013-2014.
  • Chicago‐Naperville‐Joliet, IL‐IN‐WI ranked 74 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 16.5 percent for 2013-2014.

“It is unacceptable that so many across Indiana cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “These statistics are more than just numbers. They are Hoosier households with children, seniors, veterans, working adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to make ends meet.  We urge our elected leaders to do right by their constituents. It’s vital that they protect and strengthen federal nutrition programs, and support the state produce distribution program through Indiana’s food banks.  With political will, we can end hunger in Indiana now.”

The United States Senate and House recently passed budgets that would subject the federal nutrition programs to staggering cuts. Such cuts would cause irreparable harm to the health and well-being of millions of people across the country who struggle to put food on the table. They also ignore the fact that no community or state is free from hunger, as multiple studies and research continue to demonstrate.

In Indiana, legislative leaders continue discussion and negotiations on a state budget that includes support for Hoosier produce purchase and distribution through Indiana’s network of food banks, but at a funding level that has not been raised in six years even as the number of struggling Hoosiers continues to grow.

“Food hardship is a problem in every corner of Indiana. People are still struggling,” said Bryant, noting that too many Hoosiers bear the brunt of insufficient wages, unemployment or involuntary part-time employment, and struggle to get by. “Our elected leaders must work with the charitable and private sectors in earnest to make a significant impact on alleviating hunger and improving healthy outcomes for all Hoosiers.”

How Hungry is America? contains data throughout 2014 for every state and 100 of the country’s largest metropolitan 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?” 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

7th Annual March Against Hunger Underway with the Indiana State Bar Association

The Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) has teamed up with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General 10982488_10153029650600630_5751922984540651436_nand Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) for its seventh consecutive year to sponsor March Against Hunger, a friendly food drive competition to raise both non-perishable food and monetary donations for Indiana’s 11 regional food banks March 1-31.

 

The competition is an opportunity for attorneys statewide to help put food on the tables of those struggling in our state. Since 2009, the March Against Hunger food drive has generated 52,354 pounds of food and $231,799.00 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks.

 

Firms can sign up any time during the collection period. Click here to register. For questions, contact Catheryne Pully at cpully@inbar.org or 800.266.2581. 

A special thanks to our 2015 participants:

Sole Proprietor

  1. The Law Office of Bryan K. Bullock
  2. Steven Douglas Law Office, PC
  3. Adedoyin Gomih Law, LLC

Small Firm (2-11 persons)

  1. Wilson Kehoe Winingham
  2. Roberge Law
  3. Hensley Legal Group, PC
  4. Delk McNally, LLP
  5. Jones Obenchain, LLP
  6. Lewis and Wilkins, LLP
  7. Richard A. Mann, PC
  8. Robert John & Associates, PC
  9. Wagner Reese, LLP
  10. O’Neill McFadden & Willett

Medium Firm (12-21 persons)

  1. Tuesley Hall Konopa, LLP
  2. Hoover Hull Turner LLP
  3. Haller & Colvin, PC
  4. Wilkinson Goeller Modesitt Wilkinson & Drummy
  5. Burt Blee Dixon Sutton & Bloom, LLP
  6. Tilford Dobbins & Schmidt, PLLC
  7. Eichhorn & Eichhorn, LLP

Large Firm (22-49 persons)

  1. Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff
  2. Faegre Baker Daniels (South Bend)
  3. Lewis Kappes PC
  4. Kopka Pinkus Dolin PC
  5. Church Church Hittle & Antrim (Fishers)
  6. Church Church Hittle & Antrim (Merrillville)
  7. Church Church Hittle & Antrim (Tipton)
  8. Kightlinger & Gray, LLP (Indianapolis)
  9. Kightlinger & Gray, LLP (Evansville)
  10. Kightlinger & Gray, LLP (Merrillville)
  11. Kightlinger & Gray, LLP (New Albany)
  12. Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP

X-Large Firm (50+ persons)

  1. Lewis Wagner, LLP
  2. Faegre Baker Daniels (Indianapolis)
  3. Faegre Baker Daniels (Fort Wayne)
  4. Barnes & Thornburg LLP (South Bend)
  5. Barnes & Thornburg LLP (Fort Wayne)
  6. Barnes & Thornburg LLP (Elkhart)
  7. Ice Miller LLP

Public/Non-Profit/Local Bar

  1. Indiana State Bar Association
  2. Office of the Indiana Attorney General
  3. Indiana State Senate
  4. Marion County Prosecutor’s Office
  5. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office
  6. Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, Inc.
  7. Allen County Bar Association
  8. Lake County Bar Association
  9. Hendricks County Bar Association
  10. Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association, Inc.
  11. Women Lawyers Association

Indiana State Bar Association sponsors 7th Annual March Against Hunger competition

MAH star logoThe Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) is teaming up with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) for its seventh consecutive year to sponsor March Against Hunger, a friendly food drive competition to raise both non-perishable food and monetary donations for Indiana’s 11 regional food banks March 1-31.

The competition is an opportunity for attorneys statewide to help put food on the tables of those struggling in our state. Since 2009, the March Against Hunger food drive has generated 52,354 pounds of food and $231,799.00 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks.

The winner in each of the following categories will be presented with the coveted “Attorney General’s Cup” trophy:

  • Solo Proprietor (1 lawyer)
  • Small Firm (2-11 lawyers)
  • Medium Firm (12-21 lawyers)
  • Large Firm (22-49 lawyers)
  • X-Large Firm (50+ lawyers)
  • Public/Non-Profit/Local Bar

Sign up to participate by clicking “Register“. Firms can sign up any time before the competition begins or during the collection period.

For questions, contact Catheryne Pully at cpully@inbar.org or 800.266.2581.

Donations & Food Banks:

Your donations will be weighed at the regional food bank serving your county, which you will select during the registration process. Note: Every dollar raised by your firm/organization will count as 5 lbs. and will be added to your total. Please refer to the list below for information specific to your food bank (to include address, contact person and who to make checks payable to). You will be responsible for scheduling a time to drop off your donations (some food banks do pick up).

Indiana Works to Reach More Kids Who Need School Breakfast

PHOTO: According to the Food Research and Action Center, 213,000 Indiana children ate a free school breakfast last year, less than half of those who participated in the federal School Lunch Program. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PHOTO: According to the Food Research and Action Center, 213,000 Indiana children ate a free school breakfast last year, less than half of those who participated in the federal School Lunch Program. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana schools have been working to ensure that all children, especially those who are low-income, start their day with a healthy breakfast. But a new report shows there is room for improvement.

The Food Research and Action Center found that less than half of the students who participated in federally funded school lunch programs also took part in the School Breakfast program. Lindsey Hill, president of the Indiana School Nutrition Association, said schools are trying to boost those numbers by offering breakfast outside of the cafeteria setting.

“Breakfast is actually delivered to the classroom in the mornings, and it’s a part of their day,” she said. “Other schools have done grab-and-go breakfasts where the breakfast is available as students get off the bus and they walk into the school building. It just makes it easier and faster than maybe having to walk down to the cafeteria.”

Indiana is sharing in a recent $5 million grant to rework how school breakfast is delivered, and Hill said school administrators and food-service directors around the state are collaborating to develop new strategies to reach more kids. Indiana ranks 34th nationally for participation in free school breakfast programs.

National implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision, allowing eligible low-income students to feed all students free of charge, began this year. The Indianapolis Public School District is among those offering it, and Hill said it is a good way to start the school day.

“The stigma of breakfast being only something that needy kids get is gone,” she said. “Breakfast in schools is actually something the children want to do because it’s fun and they get to socialize with their friends as well.”

According to the report, school breakfast programs have been linked to improved nutrition, fewer disciplinary problems and fewer missed days of school. Hill said the programs also help students learn better because they are not distracted by an empty stomach.

The School Breakfast Scorecard is online at frac.org.