A Greener Indiana

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Published: February 3, 2010 3:00 a.m.


Hunger’s cold numbers


Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette

People wait in line with their containers for food at Saturday’s distribution by Community Harvest Food Bank. “I shouldn’t be surprised by numbers anymore, but I am,” said Jane Avery,
executive director.

How it was done
Mathematica Policy Research conducted the Hunger in America survey for Feeding America, the parent organization for Community Harvest Food
Bank and 204 other emergency food providers. The local report reflects
data from more than 500 personal interviews conducted with clients
served by Community Harvest’s emergency food programs in nine counties
between February and May of 2009, as well as surveys completed by the
food bank.

The hundreds of people lined up each Saturday morning outside Community Harvest Food Bank represent the human face of a struggle put to numbers in the latest Hunger in America study.
Waiting for meager supplies of surplus food in bitter cold, sweltering
heat or driving rain, they are a small fraction of the thousands served
by food distributions, pantries and soup kitchens across the
nine-county region where the food bank operates.

At Community Harvest, demand rose 85 percent since the survey was last done, in 2006. The number of people who reported receiving assistance
every week jumped by 50 percent, likely boosted by an ill-advised
welfare-outsourcing contract. To add insult to injury, the state’s
paltry pledge of $300,000 in food bank support statewide has yet to be

“It’s startling. I shouldn’t be surprised by numbers anymore, but I am,” said Jane Avery, executive director of Community Harvest. “I knew we were busy, but I didn’t think we could be
serving that many.”

The regional food bank actually serves more than the survey showed. The report covers only emergency assistance, not food provided to homebound older residents or to
children at child care and community center meal sites. The programs
surveyed – including food pantries and soup kitchens and the Farm Wagon
program distributing food in Ligonier, Albion, Wolf Lake and elsewhere
across the region and from the Community Harvest warehouse on Tillman
Road – served emergency food to about 90,000 different people last
year. These included more than 21,000 residents who return for food
each week.

Forty-five percent of those served are children younger than 18 – up from 38 percent in 2006, when the last local survey was done.

In spite of assertions that Indiana is weathering the downturn better than other states, the northeast Indiana numbers reveal an even more troubling picture than the nationwide
Hunger in America report. The survey found that 37 million people
received assistance through food banks last year, a 46 percent increase
since 2006.

Coincidentally, the survey offers more evidence that Gov. Mitch Daniels made a serious mistake in outsourcing the state’s welfare eligibility process to IBM Corp. and Affiliated
Computer Services in a 10-year, $1.3 billion contract: The percentage
of Community Harvest clients who also received food stamps dropped from
41 percent to 28 percent. By contrast, the national hunger survey found
a 64 percent increase in the number of food bank clients who received
food stamps.

In the 59 Indiana counties where the process was privatized, including northeast Indiana, there were widespread complaints benefits were wrongly denied because of errors. Nationally,
the number of food stamp recipients has climbed by about 10 million
over the past two years. The nine-county region served by Community
Harvest had a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, hardly a figure that
would support a declining number of food stamp-eligible families.

The IBM contract has been canceled, but the burden outsourcing placed on food banks and other charitable groups remains.

Indiana lawmakers last year denied a request from Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, the statewide food bank network, to place a check-off option on state
income tax reforms for donations.

They opted instead for a $300,000 appropriation in the two-year budget, but the money has yet to be released. It should be made available immediately.

If Hoosiers can agree on one thing, it should be that their neighbors don’t go hungry in a state that prides itself on agricultural roots.
The hunger report is a call to action.

Tags: America, community, farming, food, gardening, harvest, hunger

Views: 88

Replies to This Discussion

Now, when I think about my food pantry days....I remember I had to literally jump through hoops just to receive a bag of food once/week/pantry .... needed to show SS# for me, my children, proof of income, proof of residency, had to shed some tears......It was hard back then, and kinda shameful, it can't be any easier today, to stand in a food pantry line to get a meager sack of groceries, but you do whatcha gotta do, especially for your children.
The Farmbill and taxpayer-subsidized corn and soybean fields create products that become cheap feed that keeps the factory farms humming( exporting 50% poultry, other meat), Big Box prices low, and maybe a cheap slab of meat on your bar-be-que this weekend, if you are lucky.
Comment by Bobi in Green:

Food security... Stable weather patterns and large numbers of small mixed crop farmers.
Food insecurity... Unstable weather patterns and large mono-culture farming.
Weather stability... uncommon throughout most of history, the last 100 years a wonderful anomaly
What to do?
Encourage as many small family farms as possible, each farmer choosing his own mix of crops.
Minimize the use of chemicals because they encourage the use of only a few varieties of seed stock which in turn increases the risk of crop failure from unexpected problems. Problems like seed stock that has little resistance to a given disease or resistance to low or high water conditions.
Encourage every country and region to become independently food secure, then the rest of the world can help any region that hs a crop failure. World wide mono-culture, where each region grows only its most profiitable crop for export puts every region at risk of food insecurity.
The large international food companies and chemical producing companies will object to every statement made above because it would severely reduce their international contol over food and their profits would be reduced.

This has always sounded logical to me, export agri equipment to poor countries, not grain, nor agri chemicals, help them to help themselves.
Have a flier in my hands.......titled Community Resources for Food, Medical, Clothing and Shelter Emergency Needs prepared by: The System That Feeds Allen County that is the associated churches food bank system.

It states clients using the food banks need to show proof of address:(rent, lease, utility bill), and a photo I.D. Clients are eligible to use the food bank once every 30 days. Good grief, that is not once every week as I thought, or as I remember it. Even with the number of food banks, there are too few, and too far between.
I distributed Angels garden fresh produce at one food pantry, the people are so grateful, humble, polite, always ask how many they can have, whether it is tomatoes, cow peas, peppers, etc.
One guy said he was gonna make a 'tomato, mayo, bread sandwich' when he got home, a lady working the food pantry
asked him why he wasn't having bacon with that sandwich, he and I just looked at each other, probably thinking the same thing, 'who can afford the bacon anymore?' and 'if I can afford bacon I would not be at this food pantry, now would I'??
I asked the pantry about homeless folks coming in, nothing seemed to be known about those people.
I walk as usual to a local DG, and pass several dumpsters behind eateries, this is what I found in one dumpster on New Years day. I am sure this is the norm still, all around the city, but how can this still be?  People are starving to death in the midst of plenty, or more are being added daily to the rolls of the ever hungry. I for one will be visiting the manager of this eatery, and asking for the bread, salads they are discarding. This food can be taken to a church food bank just a few blocks away. If the deli does not give it to me, I will just have to dumpster dive for it! Unless of course it has been rained upon like it had been on New Years day. What a sinful waste!
This deli is right across the street from a HOMELESS SHELTER.....we are retrieving stuff from this delis dumpster......5 gal. buckets of 'soup of the day'......bagels, breads........

great job on this thread....I know that the hunters donate a lot of deer meet and processing of the deer is at no cost to the hunter....the deer are overpopulated in some of the area counties and DNR is trying to encourage a bigger cull of the herd.


Have you heard of this?

Hey Eric!....thanks, yes I have.......Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry


Verbatim: Town hall meeting on hunger set in Fort Wayne

Statement issued Friday:

As part of Hunger Action Month Community Harvest Food Bank will host a “Town Hall Meeting on Hunger in NE Indiana.” A panel of area experts will address the issue of hunger in our region and along with public input, will explore possible solutions.


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