Indy Hunger Network releases Federal Nutrition Programs Toolkit

Indy Hunger Network released a brand new Federal Nutrition Programs Toolkit this month. The Toolkit is designed to help people to find information and resources on what programs are available through the federal government and administered by the state. The project serves as a partnership between Indy Hunger Network and state agencies including the Indiana Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Education, and Family and Social Services Administration, with input from partner organization Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. 


The Toolkit includes information about a variety of the most widely used food programs in Indiana, including SNAP, WIC, TANF, and Child and Adult Care Food Programs, as well as resources like school lunches. Additionally, the Toolkit includes information about community resources and services such as food banks, food pantries, and Community Compass, the food resource app and website operated by Indy Hunger Network. By using the Toolkit, readers can learn what benefits are offered as a part of each program, who is eligible, how to apply, and how to contact each respective program. 


“One of the highlights within [the Toolkit] is a clear breakdown of each program,” Caleb Kulinski, Director of Advocacy and Partner Engagement at Indy Hunger Network, said. “These programs are widespread across the state, so making sure that people can find the different offices they can reach out to enroll in those sites is important. Hopefully [the tool] is very comprehensive and is able to share all the information that people need in order to understand these programs.”


This project contributes to Indy Hunger Network’s mission to make existing food resources more accessible to Indiana residents. The idea to create the Toolkit came about after finding a similar toolkit that was created for Washington D.C. Kulinski believes that a resource like the Federal Nutrition Programs Toolkit would especially be of use for those looking for in-depth information on federal nutrition programs, or navigators who help direct others to programs, such as social workers, healthcare workers, or school counselors. 


“I think we really try and do the best we can in regards to equity and accessibility, especially in relation to different food resource programs that are available,” Kulinski said. “So I think it goes hand in hand with getting people the access to the food that they need, and healthy food at that.”


Kulinski also sees The Federal Nutrition Programs Toolkit as an important part of Indy Hunger Network’s wider advocacy efforts, as well. 


“Our focus on advocacy is actually changing the system,” Kulinski said. “I see this as being part of that systems work, making these programs accessible for the people. These programs are notoriously difficult to navigate. Not only finding out about these programs, but navigating eligibility and screening. This is part of bridging that gap, meeting people where they are, and helping them find the resources they need and the help they might need.”


Indy Hunger Network has distributed the Federal Nutrition Programs Toolkit in several ways. Copies of the Toolkit will be distributed to IHN community partners, food pantries, and other nonprofits working in the food sphere such as food banks and community organizations. From there, those partners can share the information in the Toolkit with their community members. The Toolkit is also available online in PDF format here. For information on how or where to get a personal physical copy near you, contact us.