Indiana food banks preparing to upgrade, expand

Food banks have distributed millions of pounds of food over the past 18 months as demand soared during the pandemic. (Aerogondo/Adobestock)

(Indiana News Service) Food banks across Indiana are prepping to make good use of a million dollars in funding over the next fiscal year; money that starts rolling in by mid-July.

The Legislature increased funding from $300,000 per year, after hunger shot through the roof during the pandemic.

Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, said millions of people nationwide are still struggling.

“We know for the month of April that the need and the pounds being distributed was about 45% above what an average month would have been in 2019,” Weikert Bryant recounted. “So we’re still seeing above-average demand. We’re still helping folks who are still working to make ends meet.”

Weikert Bryant recalled during the lockdowns, cars snaked around the block at many food banks as people picked up pre-boxed food. And many food banks had to rent cold storage to keep perishable donations safe, and even buy food outright to meet the demand.

Jennifer Buell, assistant agency director for Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, said they saw a 16% increase in clientele in 2020, compared with the year before. And they estimate 25% of the children within their service area are food insecure, day after day.

“That’s over and over and over again,” Buell emphasized. “And for children, that’s affecting both their physical and their cognitive development. And those delays that you see in childhood because of food insecurity can actually last an entire lifetime.”

Advocates contended the increased funding will help food banks modernize and expand their facilities, so they can continue to combat hunger in the state.

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