House lawmakers pack weekend meals for hungry kids

Posted by: Erin Reece  | Wednesday, March 6, 2019 3:00 pm

STATEHOUSE (March 6, 2019) – The Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Division of The Salvation Army joined forces at the Statehouse Wednesday to fill backpacks with donated food items to help feed hungry kids across Indiana.

In January, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) selected The Salvation Army as their bipartisan philanthropy project for the 2019 legislative session to help raise awareness for childhood hunger. As part of this effort, House lawmakers launched a food and backpack donation drive collecting over 200 backpacks and more than 5,300 healthy snacks and kid-friendly food items.

“Many children in need go without meals, especially over the weekend, when they don’t have access to school provided breakfast and lunch,” Bosma said. “By working together with the Salvation Army, we hope our actions encourage others to help fill the gap for those who need it most. Whether you donate to a local school’s backpack program, food bank or the Salvation Army, Hoosiers have the power to make a positive difference.”

In Indiana, 1 in 5 Hoosier youth face food insecurity or limited or uncertain access to adequate food, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

House lawmakers collected new and gently used backpacks, and non-perishable food items like peanut butter, breakfast bars, cereal, canned fruit, crackers and oatmeal. The Salvation Army will deliver the donations to local schools across the state. GiaQuinta said schools will distribute the donated backpacks to students in need.

“Today is just one step on the road to telling the world that our state will not stand for seeing our children go hungry,” GiaQuinta said. “Children should spend their early years seeing what the world has to offer them, rather than wondering when they are going to get their next meal. Building awareness is the first step, but we cannot end our efforts by filling backpacks. We must join together to find the answers that end this terrible tragedy as quickly as possible. Ending hunger can be achieved. It’s just a matter of showing the will to do it.”

Bosma and GiaQuinta thanked Kroger for their generous contribution and matching the total House food donations.

In addition to the donation drive, House lawmakers launched a social media campaign using #eliminate68 to draw attention to the number of hours a child could be hungry between school meals on Friday and Monday.

The Salvation Army has a longstanding reputation of providing nutritious meals to anyone in need, including through food pantries, meal programs and community gardens. Nationally, the organization provides 156,000 meals every single day. The Salvation Army Indiana Division operates 28 Worship and Service Centers in addition to many Salvation Army thrift stores throughout the state.