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Tools & Talk Aimed Toward Success

Our national affiliation with Feeding America provides us with some very valuable tools to use in our programs reflected in our mission. The boiled down version of our mission is to provide Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow. The gathering of resources includes, but not limited to – food deemed unsalable, but still nutritious and usable, the gathering of time and talents through volunteers and those who are willing to deeply engage in helping those in poverty committed to finding a way out.

The Help for Today is visible in the form of 1) semi-trucks unloading food to waiting families in cars in line for hours, 2) church food pantries serving people who walk in looking for enough resources to cover the gap in their ability to feed their families.

Hope for Tomorrow looks like 1) now in the evenings at several neighborhood schools who are creating a new positive relationship with hundreds of families while distributing food, and 2) this also can be found in weekly evening meals shared between people in poverty and those working with them to assist in finding a way out. Our Delaware County Circles Program has engaged people in poverty, middle income and wealth to regularly meet and form intentional relationships by providing a listening ear, tools and methods designed to provide a pathway out of poverty aimed at self-sufficiency.

The Map the Meal Gap study provided and updated annually by Feeding America gives us up to date data points to keep us on target with all these efforts. From this study we know that the average food insecure person has a gap of about 7 pounds of food each week that they are not able to cover from all their resources. So a family of 4 would need to secure about 28 pounds of food each week to have their food needs met and not miss any meals. This piece of data is the baseline for distribution in our School Pantry Program and how we will be working with new agencies in the future.

We are now in the midst of meetings in each of the 8 counties we serve in East Central Indiana. These County Conversations are designed for open 2-way communication with all our agencies. We hear and share plans on moving forward to manage the effort of providing hunger relief (Help for Today), and relationship building with Circles and in our neighborhood schools with staff and parents (Hope for Tomorrow). We have engaged all counties with this type of direct communication for about 4 years and it has proven to be effective. Our Program Manager, Warehouse Manager and I will be there to dialogue about questions, concerns and share ideas. This has proven to be effective in eliminating ambiguity and broken lines of communication. We would love for all agencies to participate but attendance is optional. We have much to gather. If you, the public would like to participate, we would love to work with you.

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Test Your Knowledge

Test your knowledge on food pantry activities and client behaviors (based on averages).

Question #1 – What percentage of clients come to a food pantry every time they are permitted?

Answer – Pantries report that between 2% and 10% of total clients they see are coming every time the pantry will allow them.

Question #2 – What is the average number of times that a client visits a food pantry in a year?

Answer – Pantries report that the average number of visits by a client are just over 3 times per year.

Question #3 – What is the average family size that visits a food pantry?

Answer – The average family size is 3 -4 people.

Question #4 – What percentage of people who are food insecure are employed and make too much money for any government assistance, but not enough to pay their bills?

Answer – In our 8 county service area, that percentage was 27% for 2015 (based on the Map the Meal Gap Study from Feeding America).

Question #5 – What percentage of clients report choosing between paying for food or medicine or health care?

Answer – 71%

Question #6 – What percentage of clients report choosing between to pay for food or utilities?

Answer – 68%

Question #7 – What percentage of households not participating in SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) are potentially income-eligible?

Answer – 54%

Question #8 – What is the ethnicity breakdown of the food insecure population?

Answer – 83% are White, 13% are African American

Question #9 – What percentage of the food insecure population report having more than a high school education?

Answer – 20% report having some college, 2 year degree, 4 year degree or higher

Question #10 – What percentage of client households include grandparents who have the responsibility for grandchildren who live with them?

Answer – 29%

If you got 6 or more questions correct, then you have some good insight into the circumstances of people who are struggling.

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