INDIANAPOLIS — on Wednesday, Midwest Food Bank had the first of two major food distribution events called Indy Cares.
A new study from Indy Hunger Network revealed that the number of meals needed to fill the gap in Marion County nearly doubled from February to June.
John Whitaker, the executive director of the food bank, says this will help fill that gap, especially since we’ve seen such an increase in families who need assistance since the start of the pandemic.
Indy Cares will take place in the food bank’s new facility, which is about 20,000 square feet. Their original building is 16,000 square feet.
Now we’re entering the time of year when families already need help. So, this year’s giving means even more.
“To give people a lift during the holidays and to help people who are sidelined,” said Whitaker.
Whitaker says their two Indy Cares events will give more than $850,000 worth of food purchased with CARES Act funds to about 30 agencies that help those in need. The first event is Wednesday, November 18 and the following will be Dec. 9.
“We know that those folks are probably tiring of this pandemic, and also have really been stretched to where they just can’t afford to put food on their table in many situations without work, and some would even say without hope,” Whitaker said.
While many families rely on federal nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC, he says that alone isn’t enough.
“So even though people are on snap they still visit pantries, they still do not have enough to eat even with SNAP,” Whitaker said.
“But that SNAP piece is vital and really the backbone of feeding in our country.”
City-County Councillor La Keisha Jackson is working on creating a commission that would make sure more families have access to food.
“Why is it in a country as wealthy as we are that, and I’m smiling to keep from crying, that, that’s going on? So that means our families are not eating, our children are not eating,” said Jackson.
Jackson says families eligible for federal nutrition programs like SNAP and free and reduced lunch, are under-enrolled.
“We need to really strengthen those programs cause some of the time, most of the time, these are all the meals our children receive, are those meals at school,” said Jackson.
“Whether people want to talk about the elephant in the room or not, that’s one of the examples.”
Jackson says the commission would help enroll families in federal nutrition programs, help local farmers provide more options and make healthier food available.
FOX59 first told you about the commission back in October, when Jackson hosted a town hall to get input about the community’s needs.
Then this past Monday it was presented in front of the full council.
The next step is for it to have a hearing in front of the community affairs committee on December 16. If it passes there the full council will vote on it in early January.