INDIANAPOLIS – Hit by the grinding impact of the recession, many Indiana families unable to afford sufficient groceries have turned to food banks to obtain essential goods. Demand for food assistance is only expected to intensify over the cold winter months, even as the state’s regional food banks ramp up their appeals for donations.
Last June, the Indiana General Assembly recognized the unique situation of the economy and the dire circumstances of many Hoosiers by dedicating $300,000 this year to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Inc. or FIsH, the umbrella organization for 10 regional food banks.
In light of the food banks’ need, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is kicking off an effort to raise private funds for FIsH in an attempt to match the public support.
“In traveling around the state, I have heard alarming reports that many Hoosier families struggle just to afford enough groceries to last through the week,” Zoeller said. “So I am extremely proud of the members of the Indiana General Assembly who voted to provide $300,000 for FIsH in recognition of the unprecedented need and the good work of the 10 regional food banks. In light of what’s already being provided by the public sector, I think it’s appropriate for us to ask the private sector to donate to FIsH and match that amount.”
In coming weeks, Zoeller will appeal to corporate leaders and business owners to include FIsH in their year-end charitable contributions by making donations directly to www.feedingindianashungry.org . In his personal capacity, Zoeller plans to visit companies and associations and ask them to urge employees and members to donate to FIsH.
“While there are many worthy causes competing for the attention of donors, it is vital we support the food banks, which depend on donations to restock their supplies of food,” Zoeller said. “I know that many companies are struggling to meet monthly expenses and make payroll, but I’m going to ask businesspeople to dig a little deeper into their budgets – if they can – and donate to FIsH.”
As a nonprofit association, FIsH will handle the accounting and tracking for the corporate challenge and will direct 100 percent of donations to the 10 regional food banks, allocated based on need. Zoeller plans to publicly recognize companies that make proportionately large gifts to FIsH during the fund-raising effort. Intended as a full or partial match to the state’s support, the drive is scheduled to last through Dec. 31.
“We are very thankful for Attorney General Zoeller’s assistance, not only in helping to raise funds for food purchases, but also for recognizing the tremendous need many Hoosiers have in this difficult time,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “Food banks are able to leverage lower prices through large food purchases, which will help these dollars stretch a little further. As we go into this holiday season, every little bit can help our food banks provide emergency food assistance in an efficient and dignified manner to many of our neighbors who are just trying to get by.”
Underscoring the extent of the hunger problem, a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report found that one in six American households went hungry or had insufficient food at some point during 2008.
Zoeller thanked two legislators who, during the budget process, secured $300,000 public funding for FIsH this fiscal year and another $300,000 in the next fiscal year: State Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, chairman of the
Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, and State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The generosity and foresight that Chairman Crawford and Senator Kenley have shown amid state government’s own fiscal challenges has motivated me to spur the private sector to try to match what the public sector has done,” the attorney general said.
“The state provided some financial assistance, but there is a growing need for more,” Crawford said. “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, ‘Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.’ Let us fill the deficit of human will with compassion and love for our sisters and brothers in need and make room at the table for a feast of brotherhood.”
Zoeller added that fund-raising efforts through the FIsH corporate challenge are intended to complement and supplement the individual fund drives that various food banks conduct during the holiday season. “We are not competing for the exact same dollars, but ultimately the donations will go to the same good use: to restock the pantry shelves and put food on the table for hungry Hoosiers,” Zoeller said.
Regional food banks that are members of FIsH are:
- Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Gary
- Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana Inc., Fort Wayne
- Food Finders Food Banks, Lafayette
- Gleaners Food Bank, Indianapolis
- Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Bloomington
- Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Muncie
- Food Bank of Northern Indiana, South Bend
- Terre Haute Catholic Charities Food Bank, Terre Haute
- Tri-State Food Bank Inc., Evansville
- Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, Ky., which serves five southeastern Indiana counties.
Last spring, a previous FIsH fund-raising effort by the Attorney General’s Office, March Against Hunger, generated $28,542.63 in monetary donations for food banks from law firms across the state, along with another 10,093 pounds of donated food.
“It is tremendous when an organization can meet the spirit and intent of their mission statement. We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the state Legislature and the private sector to make this a reality,” said John Etling, president of FIsH. “Bringing together all these entities in a partnership that will help our Indiana neighbors at a time when the demand for proper nutrition is at such a high level is so vital, especially for our children and our elderly.”
Any company or individual wishing to make a monetary contribution to FIsH can do so at www.feedingindianashungry.org or by calling (317) 396-9355. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax-deductible.