Indy Hunger Network plays a crucial role in supporting the extensive network of more than 200 food pantries in the Greater Indianapolis area. Our primary goal in working with food pantries is to facilitate collaboration between established and emerging pantries to enhance their operational efficiency and adopt best practices. This year, we have expanded our work with food pantries to offer the Healthy Nudges Program, a proactive initiative designed to provide technical guidance and essential equipment to local pantries committed to promoting healthier food choices among their clients. Working in close partnership with  Community Health Network and local pantries, the Healthy Nudges Program is dedicated to addressing the equipment, technical assistance, refrigeration, and storage needs of these essential food distribution sites.

The Healthy Nudges Program started in January of this year. Anastasia Oguntade, Coordinator of the Healthy Nudges Program, candidly shares, “I didn’t know where the program would go this year.” In its initial stages, there was uncertainty about the program’s potential success and its reach. Anastasia reflects on its remarkable progress, stating, “The program has now exceeded my expectations.” Initially, the program set out with the objective of partnering with 25 local pantries. To date, we have successfully collaborated with 27 pantries and 19 organizations in Marion County, with the program’s influence extending to neighboring counties.

Joining the Indy Hunger Network’s Healthy Nudges Program doesn’t require specific demographic criteria or pantry characteristics. The program extends its resources to any pantries in the vicinity in need of support. These collaborations with local pantries are initiated through direct communication at the Indy Hunger Network’s Food Pantry Summit, referrals from  Community Health Network, and recommendations from the City and partnering organizations.

The Healthy Nudges Program has seen tremendous success this year. With a dedicated investment of $100,000 in pantry resources, the program has initiated over 90 impactful enhancements within their spaces. Moreover, it has facilitated the formulation of succession plans and organizational policies for the participating pantries, ensuring their continued success long after the intial funding is complete.

“The amazing thing about this program is how hands-on and involved the community is,” highlights Anastasia. She emphasizes the community’s dedication, noting that many individuals willingly contribute their own funds to support the pantry’s mission. The program takes a personalized approach, tailoring each experience to the specific needs of individual pantries and local families. Additionally, we adapt our resources to accommodate various cultural backgrounds and collaborate with our own  Cooking Matters program to educate families on preparing recipes using the ingredients available in their pantries.

If your organization or pantry is interested in participating in the Healthy Nudges Program you can fill out the interest form here.