Feeding Indiana's Hungry

Indiana's State Association of Food Banks

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Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Statement on Shutdown Implications for SNAP Benefits, Federal Employees

Today marks the end of the third week of the federal government shutdown. This morning, Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration (FSSA) announced it plans to release SNAP benefits for the month of February early, on January 19th. No SNAP benefits will be issued within the month of February; March distribution remains unknown, depending reserve funds or an end to the shutdown.

Statement attributable to Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry:

“We appreciate FSSA’s commitment to deliver services within their power to prevent nearly 600,000 Hoosiers from experiencing a deeper lack of access to food,”

“We remain seriously concerned about the impact of this shutdown on Hoosiers at risk of hunger, however. As a result of this government shutdown, SNAP benefits will not be issued between the end of January and, at best, early March. Our clients already report that SNAP benefits don’t last for the full month, which is why they also rely on the charitable sector to put enough food on the table. We fully expect an overwhelming demand on our food banks and the pantries they serve in the month of February and perhaps beyond,”

“We also recognize that many federal employees are now missing paychecks, which could put them at risk of hunger. We would encourage anyone in need of help to call Indiana 2-1-1 to find community resources to help get through the shutdown,”

“Finally, we would implore our elected officials to end this government shutdown. Food insecurity, by definition, is not knowing from where your next meal will come. Without the security of consistent access to federal nutrition programs like SNAP through the United States Department of Agriculture, thousands of Hoosier families are further in danger of experiencing hunger, which is unacceptable.”

Note to press: 

To help food banks meet the growing need during this extraordinary shutdown, we encourage the public to contribute to Indiana’s food banks. Donations can be made at www.feedingindianashungry.org, Please include a note that the contribution is for shutdown relief and it will be passed along to the food bank serving the donor’s community.

Food Drop expands to rescue rejected truckloads of food statewide

Indiana’s largest hunger relief agencies partner with Indy Hunger Network to make it easier for truck drivers to donate store-rejected food to feed hungry Hoosiers

Today Mayor Joe Hogsett joined the Indy Hunger Network and partnering organizations across Indiana to announce the statewide expansion of Food Drop, a large-scale food rescue initiative. Nine hunger relief agencies are collaborating on Food Drop to redirect rejected truckloads of food away from landfills and into the hands of people in need.

John Whittaker, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank, kicks off the expansion of Food Drop.

Every day, about a million trucks drive through Indiana, many carrying perishable food items. That food is often rejected at its destination, because it arrives on the wrong day, is the wrong size or color, or doesn’t meet standards for another reason. While still edible, this food frequently ends up in the landfill, as the driver has to offload the Food Drop expands to rescue rejected truckloads of food statewide in order to make their next pick-up. Food Drop is changing that by making donation the easiest and cheapest option for dealing with rejected loads. FoodDropIn.org accurately and quickly provides drivers with information on the nearest agency to receive their load, day or night. Instead of paying fees to dispose of food, drivers can expect help unloading their trucks, tax-deductible receipts, and the reward of knowing their donations are feeding hungry families.

Representatives from Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Gleaners Food Bank, and Second Harvest Food Bank attended the event.

In the 2017 Indianapolis-based pilot project, participating hunger relief agencies received over 86,000 pounds of fresh produce, valued at more than $146,000. Now that the initiative has expanded, food banks in Muncie, Lafayette, Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis are ready to accept loads, and all donated food will be distributed to hungry residents through local food pantries.

In Indiana, where one in six residents is food insecure and 300,000 children do not know where their next meal is coming from, our communities cannot afford to waste this food. Projects like Food Drop have the capacity to improve these statistics. “There is a need, especially for healthy and fresh food,” said Kate Howe, Managing Director of Indy Hunger Network. “The more we’re able to provide for them for free through our networks, the better off folks in our community are going to be.”

Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Thanks Sen. Donnelly for Farm Bill Support

As the Farm Bill deliberations move to conference in the next few weeks, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry commends the Senate’s adoption of additional funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), thanks to the leadership of Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, and Senator Joe Donnelly. Our member food banks depend on TEFAP to address the significant need for food assistance in communities, nationwide. We will continue to work with representatives from both the House and Senate, as the legislation moves to conference, to strengthen SNAP and TEFAP.

Hoosier Beverage Association Donates Water to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Member Food Bank

The Hoosier Beverage Association has donated bottled water and low-calorie and no-calorie flavored water to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. The water, along with other food, were distributed at the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana tailgate in the former Kmart Parking Lot in Anderson today.

“We are proud to partner with an organization like Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to help neighbors in need,” said Diane Masariu, Executive Director, Hoosier Beverage Association. “Our beverage companies have donated 300 cases of their products giving families the many choices offered to help all to balance what they eat, drink, and do. The Balance Calories Initiative is a priority for beverage companies.”

“This donation of water from the Hoosier Beverage Association will have an incredible impact on the clients our food banks serve,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “Because of their generosity, Second Harvest Food Bank is distributing 300 cases of beverages directly to people in need in the Anderson area. We are fortunate to have support for our member food banks from statewide organizations like the Hoosier Beverage Association.”

“We are pleased to have the Hoosier Beverage Association make a product donation to assist struggling families at this food distribution and volunteer to serve on the front line to help get it done,” said Tim Kean, President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. “Our tailgates are a drive-through program that meet people where they live by taking food to a central location in the counties we serve. We will be distributing about 20,000 pounds of products to approximately 1,000 families today.”

Indiana Faith Groups Brace for Possible SNAP Changes

States that have tried adding tighter work requirements to SNAP programs report more families showing up at food pantries. (Pixabay)

States that have tried adding tighter work requirements to SNAP programs report more families showing up at food pantries. (Pixabay)

INDIANAPOLIS – Possible changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now under debate in Congress could overwhelm the faith groups that run some of Indiana’s hunger fighting programs.

Rules added to SNAP under a proposal in the House could include much tighter income and work requirements for eligibility.

States where those tactics have been tried report more people showing up at food banks and pantries.

Andrew Green, chief program officer for Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis, says the problem is, his center is already feeding as many people as it can.

“We would likely see more of a demand on the food pantry side of things, and the meals that we serve and the food co-op that we operate here,” he states. “And just because of how tight things are currently, I think we would run the risk of having to turn people away.”

Supporters argue tighter rules could save the government money by forcing people to get jobs.

Green says that requirement doesn’t match what his staff sees in the folks who come to the center.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, among adults on SNAP who are able to work, 80 percent are already working or between jobs.

SNAP and other federal safety net programs have been attacked as welfare for people avoiding work.

Green says his center sees little of that. Mostly, he says, people want to have jobs, if they can.

“We already see families wanting to pursue employment,” he stresses. “We need to look at addressing other barriers, instead of jeopardizing food – transportation and mental illness and training.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee has just released a version of the Farm Bill, which includes the SNAP reauthorization. It doesn’t include many of the more restrictive provisions found in the House version.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service – IN

New SNAP Rules Described as Red Tape Explosion for IN

INDIANAPOLIS – Changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now under debate in Congress could trigger what observers and a new report say is an explosion of red tape and bureaucracy for Indiana.

Rules added to SNAP, formerly food stamps, could include much tighter income and work requirements.

Case workers would go from checking work and income a few times a year to every month.

Maxine Thomas, a group leader for Results Indianapolis and a former eligibility specialist with the Indiana Family and Social Service Administration, says simply, “the system would fail.”

“That would be a devastating task to even have to implement, being able to have enough eligibility specialists and case workers to even process those applications in a timely manner,” she points out.

The report from Washington think tank the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities finds states totally unprepared to handle the proposed changes.

Supporters argue the tighter rules would save the government money by forcing people to get jobs.

Thomas says that wouldn’t work. And most, if not all, of any savings would be eaten up by added bureaucracy.

According to the center, four-fifths of adults on SNAP who can work already are employed or between jobs.

A pilot project in West Virginia that imposed new work requirements found it didn’t push more people into the work force it only increased demand at food banks.

And Thomas says Indiana’s feeding programs are barely able to provide anything like a balanced diet as it is.

“There may be a bulk of produce one week or a bulk of bakery items – Danishes and bread,” she points out. “And they have to actually close on certain days because they don’t have enough throughout the week.”

Under the House bill, every unemployed applicant would be referred to work training. But the center’s report finds those state programs would have to go from serving about a quarter million people a month to more than 3 million.

It found the states unprepared for that, as well.

The farm bill, including the changes to SNAP, could be up for a vote in the House toward the end of June.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service – IN

Farm Bill Must Not Cut SNAP

Program Is Vital to Many Hoosiers

There’s so much that’s rewarding about working with Indiana’s Feeding America affiliate food banks and I am privileged to have the chance to help Hoosiers struggling to get by. It’s comforting to know that when people in our communities face hardship, they have somewhere to turn.

But the support our food banks provide can only go so far. Many of the people we see each day also use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help put food on their families’ tables.

SNAP has a major impact on families, seniors, and communities in our state and across the country. Here in Indiana, SNAP helped 672,000 people last year. That’s one in ten Hoosiers who has been laid off, has experienced a serious illness, or who otherwise might need a little extra help to get by in hard times. Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of the people who SNAP helps are children, seniors, or people with disabilities.

New developments in Washington could put these Hoosiers at risk.

President Trump and Congress just enacted a deeply partisan, unpopular, and harmful tax bill that gives tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations while ultimately raising taxes on millions of lower- and middle- income families and increasing the federal deficit. Now, to pay for it, some Republican leaders are saying they plan to make cuts and harmful changes to SNAP and other vital programs in the budget and Farm Bill.

As Congress works to finalize the federal budget and the Farm Bill, I hope our Indiana delegation understands how important SNAP is to our communities and fights to protect it. If SNAP is cut, food banks and pantries across the country simply won’t be able to make up the difference. SNAP cuts will mean more Hoosiers confronting poverty and hunger. SNAP cuts wouldn’t create jobs or raise anyone’s wages – they would just make it harder for struggling families to put food on the table and get back on their feet.

SNAP benefits are extremely modest, in Indiana amounting to just $1.30 per person per meal, but they make a big difference for the people who receive them. When families use SNAP to cover part of their grocery bill every month, they have more take-home pay left for rent, utilities, and other bills. SNAP is also one of the best anti-poverty programs we have, keeping 224,000 Hoosiers out of poverty every year.

Protecting SNAP isn’t just about reducing poverty now; it’s also about a better future for our children. One in four of our nation’s children uses SNAP to help get enough to eat, including 397,900 in Indiana. And research shows that people who received SNAP as young children are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to suffer from costly long-term health problems like obesity and heart disease.

SNAP also has economic benefits that extend far beyond the people the program helps directly. In fact, 5,297 businesses, including local grocery stores and retailers, see $1.07 billion pumped into our economy every year thanks to the program. A stronger economy means more jobs, higher wages, and fewer people who need to come to food banks and pantries – which is a very good thing. Cutting SNAP benefits or imposing stricter requirements on participants isn’t the way to get to these positive outcomes that we all want.

It frightens me to think that those working hard to make ends meet could face even more hardship because of decisions that our members of Congress will be making. By protecting SNAP and other critical programs, our elected officials can give our neighbors greater security and stability and a brighter future. I hope our Indiana Congressional delegation members will make the right choice.

Statement attributable to Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and co-chair of the SNAP Works for Hoosiers campaign.

Farmers are Feeding Us. No Exceptions.

Emily Weikert Bryant is the Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

On Tuesday, we celebrated National Agriculture Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Our association of food banks and its members is indebted to Hoosier agriculture as donors, partners and producers who supply what no Hoosier should have to go without – food.

Over my years of working with Indiana’s farmers, I’ve had the opportunity to tell many of them what our food banks and pantries do to help Indiana’s hungry. To a one, every farmer has told me in response that they donate to their regional food bank through programs such as the Million Meals pork purchase program with Indiana Pork.

They also work with their county Farm Bureau to supply food or funds to local organizations, provide nonperishable items for their church pantry or take extra produce from the garden to neighbors who need help. Hoosier farmers understand that they’re part of the collective agriculture community that is feeding the world – no exceptions.

For all Hoosiers, including those who get help from a USDA nutrition program, food bank or pantry, the bulk of what nourishes them comes from the grocery store and, before that, a farm. Thanks in large part to increased efficiency and productivity on U.S. farms, Americans enjoy a food supply that is abundant, affordable and safe. On average, American households spend just 6.4 percent of their annual income on food – the lowest percentage in the world.

For the nearly 1 million Hoosiers at risk of hunger, our member food banks work diligently to provide access to protein, dairy and produce through the charitable distribution that provided more than 63 million meals across Indiana last year through 11 food banks and more than 1,800 local points for distribution.

These meals come from partners and donors in retail, the USDA and some straight from farmers. But the meals the charitable sector provides are stopgap measures, a finger in the dike for many families.

As the year progresses and Congress begins more discussion and debate on the farm bill, we look forward to continued collaboration with Indiana’s agriculture organizations and our Hoosier delegation in Congress for a strong farm bill for all involved to ensure that fewer and fewer Hoosiers go hungry.

Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry

As published in the Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette, March 22, 2018

Hoosier Hunters Asked to Help Feed Hungry

There is a way for Hoosiers who love the outdoors to help those who don’t have enough to eat during the holidays.

Hunters often spend sunrise to sunset stalking deer for sport and for food, and many end up with more than they need.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund pays for deer to be processed into venison burgers, and those are then donated to local food banks.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says the people who get the donated meat are very thankful.

“A lot of Hoosiers are quite familiar with venison,” she points out. “A lot of us grew up having it for Thanksgiving or for Christmas, and so there are a lot of Hoosiers around the state who are in need of food assistance who would be really excited about the thought of having some venison for the holidays.”

In 2015, hunters donated more than 1,300 deer to food banks, providing thousands of Hoosiers with food.

Several organizations that have teamed up with Dubois County Sportsmens Club and Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry have a network of participating butcher shops throughout Indiana, and they coordinate with food banks serving every county to pick up and deliver venison.

Weikert Bryant says the venison is a good source of lean protein that many families otherwise may not be able to afford.

“And it’s something that we get donated through the food banks as far as protein, but it doesn’t always come, and it’s certainly the most expensive thing for our clients to find and pay for themselves,” she points out.

Between 2013 and 2015, Indiana hunters provided food to almost 220,000 Hoosiers.

To participate, hunters must take the deer to a participating butcher. A full list is available on the DNR’s website.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service – IN


The 2018 budget resolution that the House of Representatives passed last Thursday strips billions of dollars from a program that helps working families put food on the table to accommodate massive tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy. Alongside drastic cuts to programs that expand economic opportunity for ordinary Americans, the budget includes major reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, helped 654,122 Hoosiers keep healthy food on the table in August.

“SNAP is one of the most cost-effective tools we have in the fight against hunger and poverty,” said Jessica Fraser, program director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families and c0-chair for SNAP Works for Hoosiers. “It’s also good for our economy. When families can afford to buy groceries, it pumps money back into local businesses and fuels long-term economic growth. This budget abandons our commitment to ensure no child goes hungry and paints a dark picture of our priorities, cutting critical programs for working families, seniors, children and people with disabilities to set up tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy.”

Just like the House, the Senate is working to pass a budget resolution that opens the door for similar drastic cuts and massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. These tax giveaways would add over $1.5 trillion to budget deficits and likely force even deeper cuts to programs like SNAP that help 290,000 Hoosier households. These cuts would pull the rug out from under the most vulnerable in our society, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. And to pass this dangerous tax plan, Republicans in the Senate are also establishing a partisan process that allows them to cut taxes for the top 1 percent with just 50 votes.

Before America made a national commitment to end hunger, some areas of the country had serious problems with hunger, including children suffering from malnutrition. Although the food assistance SNAP provides is extremely modest – averaging only $4.00 per recipient per day – the program successfully keeps more than 8 million people out of poverty nationwide, including nearly 4 million children. Looking at 2009-2012 averages, in Indiana alone SNAP helped keep 110,000 of children out of poverty and improves long-term health, education, and employment outcomes for children across the state.

“If Hoosier families lose SNAP benefits, thousands in our community could go hungry,” said Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, also a co-chair of SNAP Works for Hoosiers. “Our food banks do good work to help families, but they cannot fill the gap that these cuts would create. Instead of supporting tax cuts that help those who need it the least and the expense of those struggling to get by, Senators Donnelly and Young should pledge to protect SNAP and other poverty-reduction programs in the federal budget. We all win when our communities are healthy and prosperous.”

SNAP also supports local economic growth. Families spend their SNAP benefits at local grocery stores and other retailers, driving $1.1 billion into our state’s economy each year. If SNAP is cut, retailers could take a hit, and many of our communities, especially in rural areas, could lose businesses and jobs.

In addition to slashing SNAP funding, the House and Senate budgets would force devastating cuts to Medicaid and programs that provide income assistance, job training, help for students struggling to afford college, and economic development. If these budgets become law, they will only worsen the growing gap between the richest households and everyone else.