Lois Rockhill of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana
with State Sen. Sue Errington of Muncie
Tuesday was Food Bank Day at the Statehouse, providing legislators and other state officials with an important reminder of the nearly 600,000 Hoosiers who go to bed hungry each night. Advocates and many Senate Democrats hope the event will also help encourage the state to release $300,000 appropriated by the General Assembly to the state’s food banks last year in the state budget.
The appropriation was intended exclusively for Indiana grown and produced products to feed low-income children, adults, and seniors in need throughout the state. Releasing the $300,000 appropriation would mean that Indiana’s food banks could provide more than 1,250,000 additional meals to hungry Hoosiers across the state.
Today’s event was organized by Feeding Indiana’s Hungry Inc. (FIsH), the statewide association of food banks. FIsH serves all 92 counties through 1,500 local agencies and 10 member food banks.
Recently, FIsH participated in the Hunger in America 2010 survey, which compiled data on the emergency food programs and the people in hunger crisis that they help feed. The Hunger in America 2010 Indiana State Report found:
- More than 36% of households experience “very low food security” or hunger. The amount of food security is measured by the food intake or disruptions in eating patterns as a result of having inadequate food resources.
- Half of those in need of food assistance are children or seniors. Of the 694,500 Hoosiers seeking emergency food assistance each year, nearly 296,00 are children and 38,000 are seniors.
- Each week an estimated 117,900 Hoosiers receive emergency food assistance from an agency such as a soup kitchen or food pantry served by the member food banks of FIsH. The report found that clients must regularly choose between food and another necessity, such as paying utilities, rent or mortgage, or medical care.
- The need for food assistance has increased as the economy threatens the financial stability of families and their health, with an increase from 35 million pounds of food distribution in 2006 to 42 million pounds last year.
This was the first time Indiana has participated in a statewide hunger study and the first survey to capture the significant connection between the economic downtown and the increased need for emergency food assistance. Data was collected between February and June 2009.