This week, Hoosiers will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving across the state. Unfortunately, a meal, let alone a Thanksgiving meal, is not always readily available to many Hoosiers. A new study by Feeding Indiana’s Hungry and Feeding America shows that 1 in 6 people, or an estimated 1.1 million people, in Indiana turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. Of the households served by Indiana’s food banks and programs, 43 percent include a child under 18 and 25 percent contain a senior aged 60 or over.
Nationally, Hunger in America 2014 found that more than 46.5 million people turn to agencies and programs of the Feeding America network of food banks every year.
Below is a breakdown that paints a picture of our state’s hunger struggle as it relates to a number of barriers for working families.
WIDESPREAD USE OF FOOD ASSISTANCE
- Indiana’s food banks serve at least 1.1 million people annually, 33 percent of whom are children and 13 percent seniors.
- Among all clients, 18 percent are black, 4 percent are Latino, and 71 percent are white.
- 9 percent of adult clients are students.
- 22 percent of households include someone who is a veteran or who has ever served in the military.
- 69 percent of affiliated charitable agencies employ no paid staff/are operated exclusively by volunteers.
CLIENTS STRUGGLING WITH HEALTH ISSUES
- 85 percent of households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options.
- 77 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
- 34 percent of households include a member with diabetes.
- 64 percent households have a member with high blood pressure.
MAKING TOUGH CHOICES AND TRADE-OFFS TO KEEP FOOD ON THE TABLE
Following are the choices client households reported making in the past 12 months:
- 77 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities.
- 39 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
- 78 percent report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation.
- 44 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
- 77 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care.
- 45 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
- 63 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing.
- 31 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
- 40 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for education expenses.
- 19 percent are making the choice every month.
60 percent of households reported using three or more coping strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months. The frequency of these strategies among all households include:
- 62 percent report eating food past the expiration date;
- 24 percent report growing food in a garden;
- 43 percent report pawning or selling personal property;
- 85 percent report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food;
- 35 percent report watering down food or drinks;
- 62 percent report receiving help from friends or family.
LOW WAGES, UNDEREMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT DRIVING NEED
- 21 percent of respondents have faced foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.
- Among all households served by Indiana agencies and programs, 61 percent have at least one member who has been employed in the past year.
- Among all households with an employed person, the person with the longest employment duration is more likely to be employed full-time (59 percent) than part-time (41 percent). In comparison, the national average shows the person with the longest employment duration to be part-time (57 percent) rather than full-time (43 percent).
To learn more about how you can help address the issue of hunger in our state and read the full Hunger in America 2014 report, visit feedingindianashungry.org.