Indy Hunger Network has been involved with dozens of impactful programs in the Indianapolis area, including:

Apartment Complex Food Access

IHN is experimenting with different avenues for supporting families with resources and information so that their food needs are fully met. We previously conducted a pilot project at an elementary school to connect with families in need of food assistance and direct them to available resources in their area. We are in the early stages of a pilot project to reach food-insecure families through on-site social workers at apartment complexes.

BackSacks Process Improvement

IHN helped Gleaners Food Bank with process improvements related to the BackSacks program, which provides nutritious, kid-friendly, shelf-stable foods to chronically hungry K-6 students over weekends. Although IHN’s involvement has been completed, BackSacks continues to be a successful and important program from Gleaners.

Breakfast in the Classroom

IHN gathered best practices and implementation recommendations for Breakfast in the Classroom. Schools interested in starting a Breakfast in the Classroom program can use this Guidebook.


Cooking Education Survey

Led by IHN VISTAs and Marion County Public Health, a quantitative county-wide survey of offerings for nutrition awareness and cooking education programs was completed. It showed that the aggregate capacity for multi-session cooking classes was only half of what is needed. A suitable curriculum was identified in Cooking Matters, and a scalable model was piloted in an initial set of five classes. Quantitative metrics supported continuing and expanding the offerings.

Fresh Bucks

Fresh Bucks is a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) incentive program established in 2013 to enhance economical access to healthy food. The program doubled SNAP dollars to be spent on fruits and vegetables, up to $20 a day. It operated at a dozen farmers’ markets around the Indianapolis area and expanded into grocery stores as well. IHN has transferred the management of Fresh Bucks to the Marion County Public Health Department, and several farmers’ markets are continuing to offer Fresh Bucks.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The Fresh Group first convened in 2012 to explore ways to systematically increase the supply of fruits and vegetables available through food assistance programs. This led to several additional projects including Cooking Education, Fresh Bucks, and the Glean Team.

Glean Team

An IHN VISTA led the formation of the Glean Team in 2013 as a response to the amount of food wasted from field to fork. The Glean Team utilized volunteers to harvest excess and imperfect produce from local farms, gardens, and farmers’ markets. The program delivered over 15,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in its inaugural 2013 season and was subsequently transferred to an area nonprofit.

Mapping Service Locations

The technical talents of GIS mappers at Dow AgroSciences (now Corteva) have been used over the years to improve service by mapping locations and service volumes of pantries, WIC clinics, and congregate meal sites. This information has been used by IHN to assist in identifying new service locations.

Marketing of Connect2Help211

Market research conducted in 2011 by a local firm determined that awareness of Connect2Help211 by those who might need it was at only 15%. As one response, thousands of brightly colored, reusable cloth shopping bags were printed with a promotional message for Connect2Help211 and distributed to our pantry partners for use by their clients.

Outreach to Seniors Pilot

Due to isolation and other factors, hungry seniors, especially in low-income areas, often don’t receive needed food assistance. To help address this issue, IHN joined a coordinated, multi-pronged effort in zip code area 46218 through Meals on Wheels and Edna Martin Christian Center.


Pantry Partners

Pantry Partners was a collaborative effort to develop a network of leadership pantries across Marion County and beyond. It was led by Gleaners with support from Interfaith Hunger Initiative, St. Vincent de Paul, and Indy Hunger Network. The number of lead pantries has increased from two in 2009 to 14 in 2018. A vision of best practices was established, and the volume of food provided by these pantries increased dramatically. With generous gifts from Dow AgroSciences (now Corteva Agrisciences), IHN has continued to help with major capital needs for improvement at these pantries, as well as providing reusable shopping bags that highlighted the services of Connect2Help211.

Partner Financial Sustainability

Effective fundraising is central to the mission of nonprofits. In its largest single investment, IHN helped our nonprofit partners in 2013-2014 improve their fundraising capabilities through development audits or support for other steps particular to each nonprofit.

School Access Pilot

In collaboration with Washington Township school administrators, IHN VISTAs spearheaded a pilot program focused on reaching parents at Fox Hill Elementary School. Lessons were learned about the importance of working through a trusted partner in the community.

SNAP Outreach Coordination

In 2012, Connect2Help211, Gleaners, CICOA, and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry all received grants for SNAP outreach. IHN facilitated the parties meeting to assure good connections and maximum overall impact from their individual efforts.

Summer Servings

Summer Servings, which provided free, nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer, was underutilized due to lack of awareness of the program. From 2011 to 2016, IHN supported new branding and promotions including kickoff press events, yard signs, banners, billboards, door hangers, flyers, radio and TV appearances, bus wraps, and an improved website. We recruited summer VISTAs who canvassed in targeted areas and sponsored an annual summit and small grant program for site sponsors. Together, these efforts contributed to an overall 25% increase in meals, yet continuing awareness and access issues led IHN to discontinue active support.

WeCare Infant Mortality

The WeCare program, led by the Regenstrief Institute, aims to reduce infant mortality through education and assistance to pregnant women and new parents. IHN is partnering with Regenstrief at federally qualified health centers to provide “barrier busters” such as gas cards, bus passes, car seats, emergency food packs and grocery gift cards to help this target population reduce food insecurity and improve outcomes for infants.