Hoosiers Continue to Struggle With Hunger

Food Pantry
Donating items like these to food pantries can help bridge the meal gap experienced by many Hoosiers.

The 2016 “Map the Meal Gap” report shows there still too many Hoosiers who go hungry. The annual study by the group Feeding America details food insecurity rates in every county and congressional district in the country. It found 15 percent of Indiana’s population is “food insecure.” Emily Weikert Bryant of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry says that’s over a million people.

“About one in seven Hoosiers are at risk of hunger, and that number’s even higher when you’re looking at the child population, because we actually break that out. The average in Indiana is 21 percent of kids, or one in five, don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

Weikert Bryant says about a third of Indiana’s food insecure have incomes above 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. As a result, they aren’t eligible for federal nutrition programs and are only being served by charities.

The report covers a five-year period and shows what’s happened since the recession. Weikert Bryant says there hasn’t been a lot of progress in reducing the number of people who go hungry. In Indiana, groups in the Feeding America network distributed more than 80 million pounds of food last year.”

“But we’re only a fraction of what happens. If you multiply, more or less, what the charitable sector does by about nine or 10, that would get you to covering the federal nutrition programs and the food that they are able to provide to these families who are in need of assistance.”

According to the report, Hamilton County has the lowest overall food insecurity numbers, for adults and children. Marion County has the highest number of hungry people, and the county with the highest number of hungry children is Fayette.

Weikert Bryant says we’ll never be able to completely wipe out hunger, but there are ways to help reduce it. She encourages people who are able to volunteer or donate food or money to food banks and food pantries.

Visit http://feedingindianashungry.org/ to view the county-by-county hunger map.