Indiana News

Number of families seeking food pantries increasing in Indiana

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO) – Every day, hundreds of Hoosiers get their meals from a soup kitchen or food pantry.

The trend showing no signs of slowing down. 

“We don’t see those lines or the numbers of participation getting smaller,” said John Etling, agency director at Terre Haute Catholic Charities. 

The Food Research and Action Center reports that 15.8 percent of households in Indiana struggle with food insecurity. It’s a number that went up from 2016 to 2017. 

That’s why Fishes and Loaves in Terre Haute and other daily food assistance programs are so vital to so many communities. 

“Those pantries and soup kitchens operate as the lifeline,” Etling said. “They work within those communities and they make sure that food gets into the hands and homes of people.” 

Etling said most of the food bank’s clients use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the organization is hoping to see a farm bill in support of those benefits because when they decrease there is more of a  pressure on the food banks.

The rate of food insecurity is even higher in households with children, at nearly 19 percent, and there are several reasons why parents may struggle to feed their children and themselves.

“People may have transportation issues or access issues,” said Terri Hemminghouse, director of Chances and Service For Youths’ Child and Adult Food Care Program. “They may have to take a bus to go to the store, so they’re just gonna go to a say Dollar General or some place.”

Chances and Service For Youths offers free meals to Vigo County students daily in an attempt to help ease the struggle. 

“It’s helping fill that gap,” Hemminghouse said. “Especially for those kids that are, you know, getting that free and reduced-price lunches during the school year, they’ve got some place locally they can go.”

Etling said he believes having that place to go and be fed is the first step in a better environment for all Hoosiers. 

“Anything we can do to try to get more food, especially whole food, fresh food, produce available to people who are food insecure, I think the better community we’re gonna have,” Etling said. 

Terre Haute Catholic Charities is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on a new warehouse for the food bank where they can better meet the needs of the public. It will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.