City attacks crimes by attacking hunger

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Department of Public Safety and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana has announced a partnership to address hunger in the six neighborhoods said to be the city’s most dangerous.

They are located at the intersections of 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue, 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, 34th Streets and Illinois Street, 38th Street and Sherman Avenue, 42nd Street and Post Road, and New York Street and Sherman Avenue.

DPS director Troy Riggs said, “We’re talking about 42,000 of our closest neighbors and friends, fellow Hoosiers that live in these areas. 4.7 percent of the great population of this city. But yet 4.7 percent of our population reside in areas responsible for 27 percent of our homicides, 30 percent of our non-fatal shootings. If you live in these areas you have an over 200 percent greater likelihood to suffer from a mental illness. You have over a 100 percent to have an overdose in these areas.”

Mayor Greg Ballard said, “We didn’t pick out these areas. The data picked out these areas.”

DPS said data shows a common factor among the six neighborhoods is a lack of food.

Riggs said,  “We had hundreds of young people gather together and they said they felt like that no one loved them, they felt like no one was mentoring them, and they said that they were hungry when school wasn’t in session. They said they were hungry on the weekends and they talked about the difficulties that caused.”

The city is hoping the new program CARE, Community Action Relief Effort, will not only reduce hunger but also reduce crime in the focus areas.

Cindy Hubert, president and CEO of Gleaners, said, “We know all too well an empty stomach can lead to panic and desperation. But fighting hunger, like fighting crime is a daunting task.”

The pilot program will begin the first week in June and go through the first week in September. Each week, a truck filled with nutritious food, including fresh produce and foods high in protein, will visit each of the six neighborhoods so families will have access to food.

The mobile pantry will be manned by community and DPS volunteers. Exact locations and times are being finalized and will be announced later, but Gleaners said their mobile pantries typically visit neighborhoods for two hours at a time.

The cost of the CARE program is unknown at this time due to it being a pilot program. Gleaners said once the program is complete in September, organizers will evaluate its success and then work towards finding investors to help continue the food program.