State funding granted to Indiana food banks

Photo courtesy of Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Inc.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (ADAMS) — A total of $300,000 in state funding will be distributed to 11 Indiana food banks to provide assistance and services to Hoosiers in need. The funding came from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, through the Indiana General Assembly.

“With the support of the Indiana legislature and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, we continue the fight against food insecurity,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “While this is only the start, we’re proud to play a part in bringing greater food security to Hoosier families.”

According to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the state’s food bank association, the impact of the COVID-19 virus is estimated that food insecurity will rise by 40% among Indiana residents in 2020. This will put one in five Hoosiers at risk of hunger and includes more than 414,500 children who do not know where their next meal will come from.

Every day, and even more so in response to coronavirus, Indiana’s regional food banks distribute food and other items to Hoosiers in all 92 counties either directly or through local pantries and soup kitchens. To aid clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s food banks turned their normal distribution system on its head, quickly adapting to the situation. With help from several state agencies and the Indiana National Guard they safely served a growing number of Hoosiers impacted through illness and unemployment.

“This year’s funding will help food banks continue to meet the increased need from Hoosiers, many of whom sought assistance for the first time when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and is expected to continue for months to come,” says, Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of the association. “Food banks have had to purchase substantial amounts of food as donated food from retail sources has lessened, while incurring increased expenses for staff, logistics and personal protective equipment to serve thousands of households each week.”

One recipient, Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington, will use the funding to support the distribution of additional purchased food for its programs and partner agencies in six counties. Hoosier Hills Food Bank has already distributed the equivalent of 1.7 million meals during the COVID-19 crisis, up 52% from 2019, by purchasing significantly more food to make up for a decline in retail, food drive and prepared food donations.

“This support from the state of Indiana is especially helpful this year,” said Julio Alonso, Executive Director and CEO of Hoosier Hills Food Bank. “COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on both the need for food and on food donations. With this help, we can serve an increased number of Hoosiers facing hunger and food insecurity despite a big decline in regular sources of donated food.”

The funding was provided by the Indiana Legislature, as part of the biennial budget. The distribution amounts were determined using the Emergency Food Assistance Program fair share percentage, which captures poverty and unemployment levels in each county.

“One in five Hoosiers are facing food insecurity,” said Bruce Kettler, ISDA Director. “As we combat this issue, I applaud the organizations, farmers and countless others with an aligned mission to end hunger in our state.”

The following list includes the food banks that received funding for fiscal year 2021:

Community Harvest Food Bank – $29,970
Dare to Care Food Bank – $10,890
Food Bank of Northern Indiana – $34,890
Food Bank of Northwest Indiana – $29,310
Food Finders Food Bank, Inc. – $27,720
FreeStore Foodbank– $2,490
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc. – $96,480
Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Inc. – $12,960
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central IN, Inc. – $23,640
Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, Inc. – $13,230
Tri-State Food Bank, Inc. – $18,420
Visit www.isda.in.gov to learn more about the department.