By Lindy Thackston
INDIANAPOLIS - To help kick off Hunger Action Month, Hoosiers are being asked to join people across the country by wearing orange on Thursday to bring awareness to hunger.
Hunger Action Day, part of Hunger Action Month, is organized by the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks.
One of the biggest food banks in central Indiana, Gleaners, says 260,000 Hoosiers rely on them for food. That comes out to more than one out of every eight neighbors in the 21 counties they serve.
A large percentage of that number is children. One story that stands out to the leaders at Gleaners is that of a young boy and his dad. When low on food, the two would play a game on the weekends to help stretch food. They would try to sleep in as late as possible to miss breakfast and hopefully even lunch, meaning they'd only need one meal that day.
"When that kid was able to speak with his teacher, the teacher learned about the situation and we got them on the back sacks weekend food for kids program," said Willie Matis, communications coordinator for Gleaners Food Bank. "Once that kid started receiving his back sacks, which is food for kids over the weekend, he was so grateful he was able to have a full weekend."
"By everybody wearing orange today, wearing orange for the rest of September, raising awareness about this hunger problem in Indiana, you’re going to put more smiles on kids’ faces. You’re going to be able to put that pride back into that mom’s heart when she can bring food home to her kids and just give hope to those people who just have to simply stretch to provide for their families."
Matis says just one dollar helps three hungry Hoosiers.
There are many ways to help. You can volunteer, donate, or simply wear orange. Hoosiers are being asked to consider changing social media profile pictures to orange as well.
On Tuesday, Feeding Indiana's Hungry announced its official partnership with Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
“As we join our fellow Feeding America partners in Hunger Action Month activities across the nation, we are honored to be recognized as a Feeding America Partner State Association,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. “There is no better time than September to bring attention to our member food banks and all that they do to support Hoosiers struggling to put enough food on their tables. Joining Feeding America as a Partner State Association will better enable us to support our members and the Hoosiers they serve, and builds on a productive long-standing relationship Feeding Indiana’s Hungry has had with Feeding America for many years."
All eleven member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry are members of Feeding America:
- Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Gary
- Food Bank of Northern Indiana, South Bend
- Food Finders Food Bank, Inc., Lafayette
- Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, Ft. Wayne
- Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Inc., Muncie
- Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Indianapolis
- Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, Terre Haute
- Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Bloomington
- Tri-State Food Bank, Inc., Evansville
- Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, KY
- Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati, OH
Collectively, these 11 member food banks serve all 92 counties in Indiana. These member food banks solicited, warehoused, transported and distributed more than 80 million pounds of food last year through more than 1,700 local pantries, soup kitchens, after school programs, and other food assistance programs.