Our early work focused on understanding the hunger relief system in Indianapolis and identifying improvement opportunities. That work continues today as we look for new opportunities to improve the food assistance system.
Cooking and nutrition education courses are taught at sites throughout Marion County, including community centers, food pantries, churches, WIC clinics, early learning centers, and schools, using the Cooking Matters curriculum. Participants learn to prepare and eat healthy foods as a result of their participation in the classes. Indy Hunger Network has offered over 150 courses to date and began virtual programming in 2020 to reach a broader audience, including areas outside of Marion County. If you’re interested in volunteering or enrolling in a Cooking Matters course, email Megan.
Semi trucks carrying loads of food often have to offload the food quickly if it is rejected by the purchaser, a truck breaks down, or a load is overweight. Instead of letting those loads end up in the dump, we have created FoodDropUSA.org to direct truck drivers to local sites where they can donate the food. We direct donations to 11 food banks throughout the state of Indiana.
Indy Hunger Network provides training and networking opportunities for the nearly 200 food pantries in Indianapolis. We hold an annual Food Pantry Network Summit, created a Manual of Best Practices for Food Pantries, offer technical assistance for pantries working to implement healthy nudges, and provide periodic grants to support improvements in food pantry practices.
SNAP and WIC are important sources of food assistance for people experiencing food insecurity, but both programs are under-utilized in Indiana. IHN conducted two studies to better understand why more eligible individuals are not enrolled, and we found significant misunderstanding about eligibility requirements and the enrollment processes. In response, we have worked with state and local SNAP and WIC administrators and Caldwell Van Riper to create marketing campaigns for these programs, with a goal of increasing knowledge about SNAP and WIC eligibility, reducing stigma about participating, and encouraging more people to apply.