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September 26 is National Voter Registration Day

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry events will register voters at Indiana food banks

Today, Americans will celebrate National Voter Registration Day with a massive 50-state effort to register voters before the next election.

With important local and state elections in 2018 only months away, every eligible American voter should exercise his or her right to be heard at the ballot box. National Voter Registration Day is the right place to start by getting registered. As a nonpartisan “holiday” for democracy, National Voter Registration Day counts on thousands of partners and volunteers across the political spectrum as well as nonpartisan nonprofits like Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

“Although Indiana’s next election is not until 2018, it’s important for every Hoosier to register to ensure their voice is heard. As a nonprofit representing anti-hunger service providers, we feel it’s important to assist our clients so that they’re able to participate in our democratic process,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

Partner organizations will coordinate hundreds of National Voter Registration Day events nationwide and leverage #NationalVoterRegistrationDay on all social media platforms to drive attention to voter registration. Events can be located by visiting https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/.

Hoosiers can register at several events across Indiana and online at http://www.indianavoters.com/. Indiana residents with a valid Indiana driver’s license or Indiana state-issued identification card will be able to use this tool to submit a new voter registration application, confirm they are registered, or to update an existing voter registration record if they’ve recently moved, turned 18, or changed their name.

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry will register voters at the following events today:

Voter Registration Drive at Gleaners’ Community Cupboard
10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Community Cupboard 3737 Waldemere Ave Indianapolis, IN 46241

Voter Registration Drive at Food Finders Food Bank’s JP Lisack Community Food Pantry
1:00 PM-5:00 PM
Food Finders Food Bank Food Resource & Education Center (FREC)
1204 Greenbush Street Lafayette, IN 47909

About National Voter Registration Day

Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right – the right to vote. More than two million Americans have registered to vote on this day since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day.

 

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Statement on the President’s Budget

The 2018 budget proposed by President Trump would be damaging for the nearly one million Hoosiers facing hunger. The budget makes significant cuts to programs that support millions of Americans who have fallen on hard times, including SNAP (or food stamps), which would be reduced by more than $190 billion over 10 years – a cut of more than 25 percent and resulting in at least 45 billion meals lost.

The budget also proposed cuts to the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is federal commodity food largely distributed through America’s food banks. Any proposed cuts to TEFAP would limit the ability of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry member food banks to provide food assistance throughout the state. Estimates show 33 million meals would be lost nationwide in FY2018 due to TEFAP cuts.

“While food banks work tirelessly to provide emergency food assistance to families at risk of hunger, the problem is simply too big to fix without national government programs that are proven to lift people out of hunger and reach far more people,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “In fact, charitable food programs provide only 10% of the meals that SNAP does. Any cuts to SNAP would increase demand on the nation’s charitable food system at a time when food banks are already stretched to meet sustained high need, and would be devastating to hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger.”

SNAP Facts:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as “food stamps”) is the cornerstone of the nutrition safety net, providing assistance to low-income Americans to ensure that they can get the nutrition they need.
  • As of January 2017, 42.6 million people were enrolled in SNAP. [Source: USDA.]
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”) helps millions of low-income Americans put food on the table and provides benefits that are timely, targeted and temporary.
  • Nearly 90 percent (86.5%) of SNAP participants live in households that include a child, a senior or someone who is disabled. [Source: USDA, FY 2015 SNAP Characteristics Report, table A.14]
  • 65.9% of SNAP benefits go to households with children. [Source: USDA, FY 2015 SNAP Characteristics Report, table A.1]
  • Benefits currently average about $1.40 per person per meal. [Source: CBPP analysis of USDA data.]
  • While it is true that about 1 in 8 Americans currently receive SNAP benefits, this is generally linked to the fact that nearly the same number also live at or below the poverty level, which is $20,420 for a family of three in 2017. [Source: HHS]
  • Most SNAP recipients who can work, do work. 64% of participants are children, elderly, or disabled and not expected to work; 22% work full time, are in a training program or are caregivers; and the remaining 14% either work less than 30 hours a week or are unemployed. [Source: USDA]

AG Zoeller calls on Indiana legal community to March Against Hunger

AG partners with ISBA and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry for 8th annual food drive

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is once again calling on the legal community to help feed Indiana’s hungry by participating in the annual March Against Hunger.

Julio Alonso of Hoosier Hills Food Bank and Attorney General Greg Zoeller kick off the March Against Hunger in Bloomington.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is teaming up with the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA)  and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry for the eighth consecutive year to sponsor the friendly food drive competition to raise both non-perishable food and monetary donations for Indiana’s 10 regional food banks. Thecompetition runs March 1-31.

“Lawyers are always called upon to help those in trouble or in need of legal services, and our March Against Hunger is a way for them to show how they serve the community in another visible, hands-on way,” Zoeller said. “I challenge law firms big and small to embrace this opportunity and take an active role in reducing food insecurity in our state.”

Zoeller visited Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington today to kick-off the month-long competition.

“Families and children in our neighborhoods face hunger every day and may not know how to get their next meal,” Hoosier Hills Executive Director Julio Alonso said. “The need continues to grow, which is why it is so critical to involve the community in this challenge to help struggling Hoosiers.”

Hoosier Hills member agencies serve an estimated 7,500 people each week and 25,800 individuals annually. They distribute food in several Indiana counties including Brown, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange and Owen counties.

Attorneys, law firms, local bar chapters and law schools statewide are all encouraged to join March Against Hunger and help put food on the tables of those struggling in Indiana.

“The March Against Hunger competition is the perfect opportunity to call on Indiana lawyers, who by their very nature want to serve, to help put food on the tables of those in need,” ISBA President Carol M. Adinamis said.

Since 2009, March Against Hunger has generated 62,459 pounds of food and $282,027.91 in monetary donations for Indiana food banks.

“We are grateful for Attorney General Zoeller and the Indiana State Bar Association’s ongoing commitment to helping the 1.1 million Hoosiers at risk of hunger,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “This competition is a great opportunity for attorneys to form lasting partnerships with regional food banks and pantries. Hunger touches every Hoosier county, year round. Volunteers and donors make a tremendous impact on the lives of our clients.”

The winner of March Against Hunger 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
  • Law Schools

For law firms with multiple offices participating in the competition, the trophy will be presented to the office that collects the most in pounds per attorney (monetary donations + non-perishable food donations divided by the number of attorneys in the office). Every dollar raised will count as 5 pounds.

In addition to the “Attorney General’s Cup” trophy, the firm in each category that collects the most non-perishable food donations will receive a certificate.

Law firms can sign up to participate in March Against Hunger on the Indiana State Bar Association’s website here.

Press release from the Office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller

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

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.

 

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.