TERRE HAUTE —
At Baesler’s Market on Wednesday, volunteers from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and ResCare loaded cases of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, cereal and other food into trucks.
That food was taken to the Salvation Army, where it was added to the agency’s food pantry.
The goal is to help needy families feed their school-age children this summer, said Rev. Joseph Chillington of St. Stephen’s. More than half of the children in Vigo County schools qualify for either free- or reduced-price lunches.
“But when school is out, they don’t have access to those meals,” he said. “Pantries such as the Salvation Army are the way their parents can feed them during the summer.”
For more than a dozen years, St. Stephen’s parishioners have helped stock and staff the Salvation Army pantry. This year, the church has committed $2,000 raised at a parish rummage sale, and individual parishioners have added to that amount.
St. Stephen’s, 215 N. Seventh St., purchased the food wholesale from Baesler’s and then donated it to the Salvation Army pantry. Baesler’s also “supplements what we provide,” Chillington said.
The church hopes other churches and individuals will do the same. “There is a continuing need in our community,” he said. “We have so many children who depend on assistance for their nutrition.”
The assistance is needed and appreciated, said Capt. Gordon Hoag of the Salvation Army. “It really makes a difference,” he said.
Vigo County has one of the highest poverty rates in Indiana, he said.
He noted that this time of year, donations to the agency tend to decline, yet the need for food increases now that children are out of school.
“It’s very timely for us that St. Stephen’s is willing to help us out,” Hoag said.
This week, a new study released by Feeding America shows that children continue to struggle with hunger in every county in the nation with nearly one in four in Indiana at risk of going hungry.
The study, “Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity 2012” gives a one-of-a-kind look at the occurrence of children living on the brink of hunger in the U.S. at a county and congressional district level.
In Indiana, the report finds that 22.7 percent, or an estimated 358,120 Hoosier children, may not know from where their next meal will come. Individual Indiana counties ranged from 26.9 percent in Miami and Starke counties, to 14.5 percent in Hamilton County, to 25.4 percent in Vigo County.
An estimated 5,750 children in Vigo County would be considered food insecure, according to the study. Food insecurity means, as a result of a lack of income or other resources, that household members do not have access to food at all times to maintain a healthy diet.
On Wednesday morning, St. Stephen’s and ResCare volunteers did their part to help combat child hunger.
Among those assisting with loading and unloading food were seven residents of ResCare, which operates a program for juvenile boys. One of the volunteers, 15-year-old Dakota, said he wanted “to help out people in need.”
He said he realized his efforts can have a positive impact on other people’s lives, “and that makes me feel good about myself.”
The Salvation Army uses poverty guidelines to determine those who qualify for food baskets, Hoag said. Those in need can call the Salvation Army starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday to receive a referral number. Its pantry is open Tuesday through Friday, but it also works with other food pantries in the community.
The Salvation Army, 234 S. Eighth St., can be reached at (812) 232-4081.
Reporter Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or email@example.com.