Emergency Financing for the Food Supply Crisis - WFHB

Emergency Financing for the Food Supply Crisis – WFHB

The Biden administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an investment of $1.5 billion to fund emergency food aid. The Federation of Food Banks affiliated with Feeding America, Indiana, applauded the investment.

According to the Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America, one in nine Indiana residents face hunger. One in seven children in the state faces food insecurity. The USDA defines hunger as the lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Research from Feeding America shows that food insecure people are vulnerable to chronic diseases and adverse effects on their overall health. The data also shows that not eating enough healthy food can have serious effects on a child’s development, including chronic diseases and behavioral issues.

Emily Weckert Bryant, CEO of Feeding Indiana Hungry, described how federal aid will affect Indiana.

“We expect the date and quantity to be announced soon, but we expect to see that start come across Indiana at the start of the new federal fiscal year, which falls on October 1,” Bryant said.

Hoosier Hills Food Bank is a regional organization serving six counties across south-central Indiana. It is a member food bank of Feeding Indiana Hungry. CEO Julio Alonso responded to the recent announcement of funding from the Biden administration and the US Department of Agriculture.

“This is exciting and very welcome news for us,” Alonso said. “The downside, of course, is that we won’t really start seeing this food until next year, but it is very much needed.”

Hoosier Hills Food Bank is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides more than four million pounds of food annually to more than 100 other nonprofits serving people with low incomes, personal challenges, children, and seniors.

Meanwhile, Weckert-Bryant said Indiana food banks are facing severe food shortages. She explained how the recent investment aims to address the food supply crisis.

“Food banks, food pantries, and families are seeing the same thing across the country where inflation continues to affect food purchases, and it certainly affects our members when they get food.” She said. “We have seen a decrease in food available while noting the continued need to stay at epidemic levels.”

Alonso said he sees the food supply crisis firsthand at Hoosier Hills Food Bank. He explained that the need to address food insecurity in our region is more urgent than ever in 2022.

“We saw a huge spike in demand at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and while that was worrying and unfortunate, the positive side of that was that we also saw an influx of generosity,” he said. “We and a lot of food banks across the country are struggling to meet that demand, because we’re not seeing the same level of support we were doing previously.”

Emily Weckert Bryant is the CEO of Feeding Indiana Hungry, the network of food banks for Feeding America in Indiana.

Weikert Bryant explained that there is a gap between urban and rural communities when it comes to food insecurity. She outlined that gap and explained how funding from the US Department of Agriculture would help mitigate this disparity.

“There has already been an increased focus on rural areas as underserved areas to make sure that for our friends and neighbors in those areas, they can access the same programs that you can access in more populous areas,” she said.

Alonso described food insecurity here in Bloomington, Monroe County and the surrounding counties that Hoosier Hills serves.

“Unfortunately, food insecurity is still a huge problem here, both locally and in our region,” Alonso said. “We’re seeing twice as many people who came as we expected, and most of them point out that higher food prices and higher gas prices are really putting pressure on them, and many of them are older, lower-income people.”

Julio Alonso is the CEO of Hoosier Hills Food Bank – a nonprofit organization that collects, stores, and distributes food to nonprofit agencies that feed hungry people in south-central Indiana.

Weikert Bryant reviewed the importance of the work Feeding Indiana Hungry does, saying there are Indiana residents who have to make that difficult decision between paying their bills and putting food on the table.

“I have a distinct advantage and am honored to stand up for our organizations and the work they do. Even having stable numbers of food insecurity means that there are still many people who are not able to access the food they need with the funding they have.”

Alonso agreed, saying that no one deserves to face hunger and that Hoosier Hills provides one of the most basic human needs.

“We operate from the premise that no one deserves or needs to go hungry. There is enough food to meet everyone’s needs if we have the will to mobilize resources to get it to the people,” he said.

Weikert Bryant called on residents to help out in their communities to help those in need. She said that while volunteers’ activity increases during the holidays, she sees food insecurity throughout the year.

“We know there is always a need for volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank and the stores they work with. There is always a need for funding. There is always a need for food,” she said. Quite frankly, we see it all year round, so it’s 365 days a year.”

Alonso thanked the community for their generosity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but reminded residents that the need for hunger relief has not subsided.

“Although it appears that COVID is over or at least waning, the food insecurity crisis has not gone away. People are already stressed by inflation, and many people have not yet recovered from the effects of the pandemic,” he said. “So I just want to remind people that these are The need is still there and we and other hunger relief organizations still need their support.”

To learn more about the Hoosier Hills Food Bank, you can visit foodbank.org.

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