Joining Together to End Hunger in Indianapolis
By Dave Miner
Indianapolis has a rich tradition of corporate citizenship stemming back to the founder of the company I spent my career working for, Eli Lilly. Following my decades-long role as a Lilly scientist and manager, I now support two Indianapolis companies, Elanco, the animal health division of Lilly, and Dow AgroSciences as they work with community leaders to end hunger in Indianapolis.
Burdened by the one in five residents who are hungry in their shared headquarters city of Indianapolis, the two companies are full, active partners in the Indy Hunger Network. Indy Hunger Network is a collaboration of organizations in Greater Indianapolis that promotes access for all to nutritious food through a sustainable hunger relief system. I have been privileged to chair this collaboration of the local organizations who work tirelessly to meet the food needs of our poorest neighbors.
Elanco and Dow AgroSciences both have a corporate objective to provide new food solutions to meet the demands of a growing global population. The problem is more immediate and severe for 925 million people worldwide who do not have enough food to sustain themselves today. Dow AgroSciences addresses this need through its powerful partnership with AMPATH, Indiana University’s medical partnership in Kenya among multiple efforts. Elanco is leading a Hunger Free Communities initiative in multiple countries worldwide, including working with Heifer International. Both of these efforts are featured in the next section of this magazine.
Our story in Indianapolis illustrates the power of local leaders building a broader coalition of stakeholders fighting hunger in their communities.
Given my background in science and my wife Robin’s career in engineering, when we joined the coalition of non-profits we wanted to frame IHN’s agenda with objective data. Robin was able to collect information on all the major sources of food assistance in Indianapolis. Federal nutrition program data were available from the state agencies that administer them. Figuring out the rest required some phone calls and emails to private charities, but this didn’t prove too difficult. By crunching the numbers and converting to common units, we discovered that federal nutrition programs accounted for about 90 percent of the food assistance in Indianapolis in 2012.
Robin developed a simple pie chart so that anyone can visualize where Indianapolis’ food assistance comes from. We were surprised to learn that this straightforward analysis was not already being done in cities across the country. The largest contributor on the private sector side was Gleaners, the Indianapolis area food bank that is the face of hunger relief for many Indy residents.
CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions - Provides home-delivered meals and more for seniors.
Gleaners Food Bank - Secures, stores and redistributes donated food to over 350 Hunger Relief Agencies in central Indiana.
Indiana School Breakfast and Lunch Program (Free and Reduced School Meals) -National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a Federal entitlement program open to public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. The USDA designed the School Breakfast Program (SBP) to meet the needs of children who arrive at school hungry.
Meals on Wheels - Serves the Greater Indianapolis-area home-bound seniors and disabled individuals.
Second Helpings - Specializes in food rescue, culinary training and providing hot meals to congregate feeding sites.
SNAP - Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formally known as food stamps, provides food assistance to low-income people and families living in the United States. In Indiana, the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) is responsible for ensuring the federal regulations are implemented and consistently applied in each county.
St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) - Operates the largest food pantry in the Midwest.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) - A nationally recognized nutrition program supporting pregnant and nursing mothers and their infants. In Indianapolis, it is operated by the Marion County Health Department.
***Many other community organizations contribute as well, including food pantries, soup kitchens, community gardens, and lots more!
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