By Michelle Jones, GIS Analyst, The Polis Center
Each holiday season (November and December), we hear about local programs such as Gleaner’s Food Bank, Second Helpings, and Midwest Food Bank among others that provide food for those in need. But what about the other ten months of the year? Just because these food donation organizations aren’t as prevalent in the news from January through October doesn’t mean that they’re not working just as hard. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the people in need of their services require less assistance.
In fact, you could argue that during the summer months, families actually require MORE assistance, especially for children. According to Indy Hunger Network, a recent Feeding America report reveals that 17.4% of all Marion County residents are food insecure …even more shocking? This statistic includes 22.5 percent of the county’s children.
If you consider Marion County alone, we found that of the 28,430 families in poverty, 24,040 (85%!!) have children under age 18 (Source: SAVI, American Community Survey). Pair this with the fact that 97% of the schools in the IPS district have more than 50% students eligible for free or reduced lunch, with 37% of these schools having 90% or more eligible (Source: Indiana Department of Education). Now, you can understand the magnitude of the issue of hunger.
Recognizing this need, Summer Servings, a USDA-affiliated organization, offers meals at no cost during the summer to eligible children in low-income areas in Marion County. It serves two meals per day per child at various recreational and community sites. The goal of Summer Servings is to continue to offer children nutritional options while school is out of session.
“So many of our children are dependent on school lunches in order to feed themselves so this summer program with the Summer [Servings] is just going to be tremendous,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Health Director. Read the WISH TV article.
For more information about the program, visit its website at http://www.summerservings.org/. Additionally, you can dial 2-1-1 for site locations. Connect2Help 2-1-1 will assist you with finding the services to meet your needs.
The following map highlights the locations of food pantries in Central Indiana. Use SAVI to find the one closest to you, and contact them to learn how you can be part of the solution in fighting hunger.