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ISDH introduces disaster program giving Hoosier families more access to food assistance

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new program is giving Hoosier families that have suffered significant financial loss due to the coronavirus pandemic better access to food.

A trunk full of food is incredibly important for Alina Izaguirre and her family.​

“Wonderful. It’s a wonderful thing.” said Alina Izaguirre, of Mooresville.

Alina’s family is one of many Hoosier families that has been impacted by COVID-19. ​She says she’s still trying to file for unemployment.​ So, for her the food means even more. ​

“It’s God-sent,” Izaguirre said. “I thank God for it.”

Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday announced the launch of the Disaster Household Distribution program which has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture.​ The program’s goal is to boost access to food for Hoosier families in need. ​

According to a release sent by ISDH Wednesday, the program is using “commodity foods” from The Emergency Food Assistance Program and priority will be given to Hoosiers who are suffering “significant economic losses.”

During the COVID-19 response, food banks and partner agencies have largely shifted to drive-thru distributions. Through the DHD program, current TEFAP food banks will use the network of new and existing mobile pantries to distribute food packages to families in need. It is anticipated a total of 250 sites, including mobile pantries, will assist with food distribution throughout the state, primarily in rural areas.

Marion County will use Indianapolis Public School buses, community centers and a drive-through location at Gleaners Food Bank to ensure that families have easy access to food resources.”

“It enables us to give more food to each client that comes through for assistance.” Joe Slater, the CFO/COO of Gleaners Food Bank explained to News 8 Wednesday.ISDH said hundreds of sites, including mobile pantries will help distribute food statewide. ​

Every household that gets food through the new program can get a pre-packed 25-pound box of groceries including meats, fruits and vegetables.​

“That’s fantastic.”  Izaguirre said. The program comes as the need grows exponentially at Gleaner’s Food Bank.​

“Our total distribution is up probably about double what it has been prior to this COVID crisis. We distributed a little over 1 Million pounds of food last week to hunger relief agencies. That’s about twice what it usually is.” Slater explained. 

So, people like Lillian Snider, who also brought her neighbor to get food, won’t have to worry about what’s in the pantry.​

ISDH said you should contact your local food bank or pantry to figure out if they participate in the DHD program. If you would like to find the closest food pantry to where you live, click here.  Indiana’s food assistance map.  MAP LINK