Hoosier Hills participates in Ind. fundraiser
Don’t throw that away.
The Indiana branch of Feeding America, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FISH), teamed up with United Producers Inc. and launched a month-long fundraiser called Cooperating to Feed Our Community.
The fundraiser asks for donations and for volunteers and advocates to assist or work at one of the 1,700 pantries and food bank programs in Indiana, said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.
FISH works with 11 Indiana food banks to help provide Hoosiers with food assistance in more than 92 counties.
One of the food banks engaging in the fundraiser is Bloomington’s Hoosier Hills Food Bank.
Hoosier Hills, at 2333 Industrial Park Road, is affiliated with Feeding America and provides 3 million pounds of food to more than 25,800 individuals per year, according to its website.
Since opening in 1982, the food bank has issued more than 30 million pounds of food throughout Indiana’s Brown, Lawrence, Monroe, Martin, Orange and Owen counties.
Hoosier Hills Meal Share Coordinator Dan Baucco said Hoosier Hills is the only food bank in the country that produces prepared and packaged food for individual families.
“We are small enough to make it work,” he said. “Large food banks only take the food to pantries. We deliver it to families, or they shop for it here.”
According to the Hoosier Hills website, the organization started the Meal Share project in 1995. The project safely captures leftover food from a wide range of Bloomington donors and repackagess it for needy families.
Hoosier Hills receives pounds of food everyday from local restaurants, IU cafeterias and Bloomington hospitals, Baucco said. The food bank takes custody of anything that can be saved and distributes it to needy families.
United Producers Inc. is a farmer-owned and livestock cooperative operating in the Midwest area, providing risk management, financial and marketing assistance to the agricultural community, according to the UPI website.
The event commenced Oct. 3 and will proceed for the rest of the month. It is a by-product of 2012 being the International Year of the Cooperation and October being National Co-op Month.
Abra Dunn, the marketing and communications specialist of UPI, said the company always tries to do something to celebrate co-op month, but because it is the international year, they wanted to take it to the next level.
“The fundraiser is a way we could work with our employees, members and larger community to do something good,” she said. “Also, there is a natural tie between the agricultural community and food banks.”
About 13 percent of Indiana households are “food insecure,” which affects more than 1 million people. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food insecure families are families at risk of going hungry.
“People in every country are at risk, and nearly one in four Hoosier children is at risk for hunger,” Bryant said.
Bryant said that within the last three years, Indiana ranked 35th in the nation concerning food insecurity.
“There are still many Hoosiers, our friends and neighbors, who don’t know from where their next meal will come,” Bryant said. “This is unacceptable when there is enough food for these families who simply don’t have the means or access to get it.”
Local Bloomington residents Edward and Janice Clinch said they try to volunteer once a month for Hoosier Hill or other organizations, such as Meals on Wheels.
“There is tremendous amount of food wasted and being thrown away,” Edward Clinch said. “We have been volunteering here for several, several years to help others.”
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