Chances are someone you know is wondering where their next meal is going to come from. A new study shows 319,450 Hoosiers are at risk of hunger and one-third of them are children.
The findings are from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” study, which looked at 21 counties served by Gleaners Food Bank. Overall, 15.2 percent of the population in its service area struggle with hunger.
At Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis, volunteers box up food for up to 40 families per week. Paula Botello never thought she’d be one of them.
“My mom just got laid off of work and there’s two brothers plus a baby [at home],” said Botello. “It’s really hard. I get depressed a lot because of it.”
Gleaners Food Bank President and CEO, Cindy Hubert, said it’s a problem that gets worse year after year. They live it every day.
“More importantly, it’s poverty ,” said Hubert. “We’re seeing more people who before did not need our services. It just reinforces the fact that we are seeing that many more people in lines at food pantries. The food pantries that we serve are saying it’s just not decreasing at all.”
Hubert said government funding for emergency food programs have also gone down by 25 percent every year. The U.S. Senate passed a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that would cut the nation’s food stamp program by about $400 million a year Monday. The Senate’s version of the legislation will be taken up by the House later this month.
If the trend continues, food banks are expecting lines at pantries to only get longer. Botello said it will only make it harder for her to put food on the table.
“I’m trying to do what I can. I’m just going crazy,” she said.
The study also showed 37 percent of children at risk of hunger are not eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches.