Getting enough food to eat is a daily battle for one in six Hoosiers, including more than 340,000 children.
Today is Hunger Action Day, and hunger-relief groups in Indiana are shining a light on the problem of food insecurity.
Many people who turn to food banks have a job, but still can’t afford basic necessities, explains Marijo Martinec, associate director of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. And, she says, that leads to difficult decisions.
“Whether to buy food or pay utilities, rent, medications,” she explains. “We’ve also seen people that maybe donated in the past to our food bank but now have to come to our agencies to receive services.”
During September, people are encouraged to donate, volunteer, advocate and educate others on the realities of hunger today.
Martinec says people can start by wearing orange today as a symbolic color of hunger.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, says there are ways to pitch in at food banks and pantries around the state all year long. She says, typically, they have very few staff and always need volunteers to sort food, or pack senior boxes and food backpacks for children.
“Going into the holidays there’s a lot of opportunities for volunteering and for participating and for donations,” she points out. “But folks are hungry year-round and the food banks are doing their jobs year-round, so bringing a little bit more awareness carries out that mission throughout the whole year.”
Weikert Bryant adds that those who want to help but are short on time, can give money. She suggests perhaps skipping a daily specialty coffee and instead donating to a food pantry.
At the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, nine meals can be purchased for every dollar donated.