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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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Increasing demand devours IN food bank resources

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Friday, July 5, 2024   

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is facing a surge in demand for food assistance, despite the end of the pandemic.

The facility serves about 60,000 people monthly in Lake and Porter Counties.

Victor Garcia, the operation's CEO, said food banks operate differently from food pantries and soup kitchens. Food banks source food through donations, government programs and bulk purchases to supply local agencies.

"If you think of that food pantry at your local house of worship as a grocery store, and you think of a soup kitchen as a restaurant, our core business as food banks is to be the supplier to those agency partners," Garcia explained.

Garcia pointed out before the pandemic, the food bank conducted two mobile distributions weekly, serving about 4,000 people a month. During the pandemic, this spiked to six distributions weekly, serving 14,000 people.

According to the nonprofit group Feeding Indiana's Hungry, one in seven Hoosiers is food insecure. The group also reported the hunger rate for children in Indiana is even higher at one in five or worse in 38 of Indiana's 92 counties.

Garcia noted to meet demand, his facility currently maintains five distributions each week and serves about 12,000 people each month.

"The increased cost of product is creating significant impacts," Garcia stressed. "While we're looking for donated food as much as possible, we are buying more food than we ever have as a network to meet the increase in demand."

The food bank relies heavily on community donations and volunteer efforts. Garcia emphasized every dollar donated provides three meals, and volunteers are essential, with 7,200 individuals having volunteered last year alone.


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