TERRE HAUTE —
Hunger is a growing problem across Indiana, especially for children.
Just ask the folks at the Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, where more than 2 million meals are provided each year to more than 32,000 food insecure individuals in a seven-county area.
Today, more than 200 backpacks with food for the weekend will go home with students at Deming and Franklin elementaries. And Catholic Charities agency director John Etling guarantees that type of assistance will be sustained throughout the school year to make sure that a vulnerable population has nutritious food to eat.
September is Hunger Action Month, and on Thursday, Catholic Charities hosted a breakfast and program for hunger relief agencies to talk about problems and solutions to the hunger crisis.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry — FIsH — outlined federal programs that help people get food and noted that programs similar to the elementary backpacks are going on around the state.
FIsH, which operates nine regional foodbanks in Indiana, links hunger service providers, food producers and processors with state residents in need.
Among the assistance programs that can help low-income people get food is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP), formerly called food stamps. SNAP benefits are used to purchase healthy foods at the grocery. Many agencies helping to feed Hoosiers are good resources to spread the word about programs such as SNAP, Bryant said.
Locally, ongoing projects raise awareness of food insecurity.
A benefit called the Soup Bowl started in 2010 to raise awareness of hunger in the Wabash Valley, and students at North Vermillion High School were among those who made and donated bowls for the project.
North Vermillion art teacher Chuck Wagoner, who also operates Wagoner Pottery, led students during the past two years in the making about 120 glazed bowls for the benefit.
“It’s really neat for the students because they understand the meaning of volunteerism,” Wagoner said. “And it raises awareness of the fact that some people don’t have food. We’re glad to have the school being involved in a community program like this.”
Wagoner and the North Vermillion students were honored by Soup Bowl organizer Sister Mary Montgomery for their participation in the annual project.
“We could not do the Soup Bowl Benefit without all the great bowls contributed by you and your students,” Montgomery told Wagoner.
Montgomery also had high praise for Bob Baesler of the locally owned Baesler’s Market, which contributes to the fundraiser, along with Aramark at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and First Financial Bank. Baesler expressed the sentiments of many supporters of the Soup Bowl when he commended the effort.
“We appreciate that you people do so much to help so many people, and we are blessed to help in a small way,” Baesler said.
The VNA Hospice of the Wabash Valley also challenges the community to combat hunger with its Orange Friday project.
On the Friday before Thanksgiving, VNA Hospice plans to raise $10,000 by selling orange ribbons for $3 each. All the money raised will help those served by Catholic Charities Foodbank.
“Before you go shopping on Black Friday,” said nurse Robin Heng of the traditional first shopping day of the winter holidays, “feed the hungry on Orange Friday.”
Among the local organizations represented at the breakfast meeting was Foursquare Gospel Church, 800 N. 13th St.
The congregation provides packages of food on Mondays and Thursdays to area residents, and serves breakfast and lunch on Sundays.
The effort started with just one day of food distribution, said pastor Marrillyn Smith, but it soon grew to two days a week and the Sunday meals, serving about 1,400 people a month. The congregation of 130 members also has a clothing ministry.
“They are all givers and helpers, and their heart is with this ministry,” Smith said of the congregation and the need seen in the low-income neighborhood. “Our philosophy is, it’s not them-and-us, it’s we.”
During the month of September, the nationwide food bank network of Feeding America is encouraging people to participate in Hunger Action Month by raising public awareness and supporting domestic hunger relief.
“It is important that we continue to raise awareness about hunger in our communities,” Etling said. “In west-central Indiana, one in six, or more than 41,000 of our neighbors, are food insecure. Many of these mothers, fathers, seniors and children fight this battle silently every day.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.
• For more information about hunger in Indiana, go online to www.hungeractionmonth.org, or to www.feedingamerica.org or to www.catholiccharitiesterrehaute.org.
September is Hunger Action Month
TERRE HAUTE —
Hunger is a growing problem across Indiana, especially for children.
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