Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 20, 2013

Hunger reaches beyond the holidays in Indiana

By Mary Kuhlman Indiana News Service
Greensburg Daily News

---- — INDIANAPOLIS - Putting food on the holiday table is especially difficult this year for those who are struggling to make ends meet in Indiana.

A reduction in food assistance benefits last month meant about $36 less in food stamp benefits per month for a family of four. That has resulted in longer lines at food pantries and soup kitchens, said Tim Keane, president and chief executive of Second Harvest Foodbank of Central Indiana.

“It’s a particular issue for folks that are struggling, because their resources are stretched just as much as everyone else’s,” he said. “And certainly, trying to make some accommodations for celebrating the holidays are particularly hard for them.”

Keane said hunger in Indiana is widespread, with one in six adults and one in four children considered “food insecure,” unsure whether they’ll have enough food for regular daily meals. Indianans are being encouraged to contribute to the holiday food drives going on around the state, or to volunteer time or money to help those in need. More information is online at curehunger.org.

While some experts claim the economic recovery started more than a year ago, Keane said the increasing number of clients at their food pantries paints a different picture.

“There may be more folks that now have found it difficult to find employment that will pay them a living wage,” he said. “So, we see folks that maybe used to be our donors, are now are in line as clients receiving service.”

During the holidays, helping others is top of mind for many people. But Kean said he’s more worried about what happens to needy families after the first of the year.

“January, February, March, where the weather is typically the worst, utility costs are typically the highest and resources may be more scarce than they’ve ever been,” he said.

Keane said he believes local, state and federal leaders need to take a closer look at the reasons some people are struggling now more than ever, and develop long-term solutions.