While Indiana is one of the most job-friendly states in the country, the fact remains that food insecurity and hunger are on the rise. Each and every day, Hoosier families are struggling to put food on the table. In fact, just this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that nearly 373,000 households in Indiana have struggled with hunger over the past three years. This equates to 14 percent of households and almost 1 million people.
These statistics illustrate the need to not only bring attention to this issue, but also work together towards solving it. I was pleased to find out earlier this week that Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) is launching an official partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, by becoming a Partner State Association (PSA). FisH currently has 11 member food banks that serve all of Indiana’s 92 counties, but by becoming a PSA, they will be even better equipped to provide for the people they serve.
Since it was established in 2005, FIsH has been committed to maximizing public-private partnerships that link hunger service providers, retailers, food producers and processors from around the state. I am excited by the possibility of their already widespread influence growing even wider. However, we must keep in mind that there is always more that we can do to help.
With about one in six Hoosiers not knowing where they will find their next meal, awareness is the first big step. Across the country, September is celebrated as Hunger Action Month to do just that. This is a month-long campaign coordinated by Feeding America to end hunger across the country. Here at home, this gives Indiana organizations, businesses and individuals the opportunity to join a movement that has a real and lasting impact on the effort to feed more Hoosiers than ever before.
Over the course of Hunger Action Month, food banks that are part of FIsH will be sponsoring events around Indiana to kick start the campaign, including food drives, hunger roundtables and volunteer opportunities. These events are great opportunities for individuals, businesses and other organizations to learn more about FIsH and what we can do to help.
One such opportunity, that is not too far away, can be found at the Tri-State Food Bank in Evansville. This particular member food bank serves nine counties in southwest Indiana and is in constant need of volunteers, both in their warehouse and in their office. If you are interested in volunteering and learning more about the opportunities available, please visit http://www.tristatefoodbank.org/volunteer.html.
The Tri-State Food Bank website also provides a great resource for those who are in need of food assistance. Through their website, you are able to search by county for any pantries and/or shelters that are available locally. According to their website, between Pike, Spencer and Warrick counties, we currently have nine food pantries.
As Indiana continues to impress in terms of economic growth and development, we must not forget those who are still in great need of help. Hunger exists in every city and every county in Indiana. It impacts our friends, our neighbors and even our own families, but I believe that awareness goes a long way, and I believe that together we can change these statistics.