This week, April 15-21, marks National Volunteer Week, recognizing the millions of volunteers who devote their time and efforts to making a difference in the lives of others across America. Feeding Indiana’s Hungry honors the thousands of volunteers that help those at risk of hunger across Indiana.
13 percent of Hoosier households are food insecure, or at risk of hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This equates to more than one million Hoosiers who are in need of assistance from the 11 member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and the nearly 1,7000 local agencies served by the food banks, including soup kitchens, pantries, after school programs, senior programs, and others.
According to Hunger in America 2010: Indiana State Report, 72 percent of food pantries and 52 percent of soup kitchens served by the Feeding Indiana’s Hungry network report relying entirely on volunteers and have no paid staff. Volunteers provide around 150,000 hours of service a year to the member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the equivalent to approximately 70 more full time employees. In addition to helping member food banks save time and labor costs, volunteerism helps raise awareness of hunger in America and promotes community involvement in solving the problem.
“Volunteer support is indispensable in helping our member food banks serve those at risk of hunger in Indiana,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “Without the help of volunteers, many more would be in search of a meal because the 66.4 million pounds distributed by the network in Indiana last year would not all have made it to those in need. Hoosiers can help alleviate hunger by contacting their regional food bank for volunteer opportunities in their communities and neighborhoods. Help is always needed and tremendously appreciated.”