Indiana Daily Student

Hoosier Hills Food Bank book fair raises funds for community

<p>People walk around the Hoosier Hills Book Fair on Oct. 18, 2021, at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. The <a href="https://www.hhfoodbank.org/" target="">Hoosier Hills Food Bank</a> organized a <a href="https://www.heraldtimesonline.com/story/news/local/2021/10/12/hoosier-hills-food-bank-book-fair/5994011001/" target="">six-day book fair</a> event starting Oct. 14 at the Monroe County fairgrounds.</p><p></p>

People walk around the Hoosier Hills Book Fair on Oct. 18, 2021, at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. The Hoosier Hills Food Bank organized a six-day book fair event starting Oct. 14 at the Monroe County fairgrounds.

The Hoosier Hills Food Bank organized a six-day book fair event at the Monroe County Fairgrounds with funds being donated to the food bank benefiting the community. 

The book fair takes place in two buildings at the fairgrounds, beginning Oct. 14 and ending Oct. 19. Numerous items are for sale such as books, movies, music and games, which came from donations throughout the year. 

The funds raised support the food bank’s hunger relief efforts in six counties and within its partnerships, Julio Alonso, Hoosier Hills Food Bank executive director and CEO, said. The book fair was canceled last year because of COVID-19.

“We’re glad to have it back,” Alonso said. “It’s been going really well so far. We’ve had a record number of attendees every day we’ve been out here, we’re hoping to keep that pace up.”

In 2020, the food bank saw an increase in food box distribution, from about five million to seven million boxes, Alonso said. Throughout the pandemic, he said community support helped the food bank make it through.

“During COVID, we saw a big outpouring of community support,” Alonso said. “It was great. It’s what was able to get us through.”  

Manager of Volunteer Services Ryan Jochim said the food bank has an amazing volunteer base, made up of Bloomington community members, IU faculty and students. The food bank used to be a Red Cross event and those volunteers picked Hoosier Hills as the organization to run the event, he said.

The food bank is always looking for new volunteers since it gets difficult to manage things with only 12 or 13 staff members at Hoosier Hills, Jochim said.

 “Different things come up throughout the year, just depending on the season, when we’ll need people,” Jochim said. 

Marjorie Hershey, professor emeritus of political science at IU and book fair volunteer, said she is thankful for the food bank and believes its mission is benefitting the members of the community, especially through recent income inequality issues throughout the United States.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a big increase in income inequality in the United States, including in this area,” Hershey said. “The food bank is just a wonderful way to help deal with that. It’s a very simple process. People need food, they come to the food bank, they get food from people who have the means to provide it.”

Hershey said she encourages people to check out the book fair and get involved with the food bank. It benefits every group of people, from people who utilize the food bank to those who work at it, she said.

“It’s a win-win,” Hershey said. “People get stuff for very cheap prices, the food bank gets food, the food bank’s clients get to help resolve their problems of access to good food.”

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