Our early work focused on understanding the system that feeds hungry people 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
Cooking and nutrition education classes are taught at sites throughout Marion County, including community centers, food pantries, churches, and schools, using the Cooking Matters curriculum. Class participants learn to prepare and eat more healthy foods and do so less expensively. Indy Hunger Network offered 20 classes in 2017 and is working with partners to teach 45 classes this year and to expand the program to more locations.
Food Compass App
Connect2Help211 has extensive information in their database about food resources, and we would like to make this information more easily available by smart phone. We are working with the City of Indianapolis, LevelUp Design, and Connect2Help211 to develop an app that will allow people to quickly find the nearest food pantry, congregate meal site, or other food resource on their phones, as well as determining eligibility for federal nutrition programs, including SNAP, WIC, school meals, and summer meals.
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 FoodDropIN.org to direct truck drivers to local sites where they can donate the food. We have recently expanding beyond the Greater Indianapolis area to include food banks across the state.
There are nearly 200 food pantries in Indianapolis, operating with very limited coordination and support. IHN convened the first Pantry Summit in March 2018 and is continuing efforts to help pantries strengthen their operations. The second Pantry Summit will be held March 2019.
SNAP Challenges | Navigators
Many people in need are not accessing food resources or federal benefit programs for which they qualify, because the system is complicated and difficult to navigate, especially for people in challenging circumstances. A recent IHN study indicated that many people do not understand the eligibility requirements for SNAP. IHN is exploring ideas for facilitating SNAP enrollment, such as creating a system of navigators to help people access the food resources they need and improving access to eligibility information.
The Indiana WIC Program currently serves an average of 145,000 women, infants, and children each month through a statewide network of 140 WIC clinics. Indiana WIC supports $105 million in food sales at more than 600 Indiana WIC-authorized grocery stores and pharmacies. IHN is partnering with WIC to increase utilization of this important program via social media and online marketing. View our recent videos