September is Hunger Action Month

On September 1, the Mayor of Indianapolis and other dignitaries will dye the Canal downtown in support of Hunger Action Month, a national month of bringing awareness and action to the complex and widespread problem of hunger across the world.
Famines in South Sudan, northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are international crises. War, political upheaval, drought, and many other factors have affected nearly 20 million people who have no or little access to food.
Closer to home, the issue of hunger is not as visible. According to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), 1 in 5 households with children in Indiana reported in surveys covering the 2014–2015 period that they struggled to afford enough food. In the 2016 paper, “Food Hardship in America: Households with Children Especially Hard Hit” provides data on food hardship — the inability to afford enough food — for the nation, every state, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). Central Indiana ranked 46 out of 100 with a food hardship rate of 19.9 percent for households with children in 2014-2015.
According to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about hunger in America, over 172,500 individuals are food insecure in Marion County, using 2015 data. The data includes adults, children and seniors experiencing hunger regularly.
Many of the hungry are children, but a growing proportion of them are seniors whose retirement savings have been decimated by escalating medical bills and high medication costs, plus increased housing expenses, forcing them to make hard choices between eating and paying for medicine. In 2015, the latest year data is available, almost 12 percent of seniors were food insecure. Nationally, the rate is 8.1 percent.
Food banks are still seeing increased traffic through their doors, despite improving economic conditions across the area, and are seeing donations drop. Eastside food pantries that offer food for the hungry include:
• ICAN Food Pantry at Downey Ave. Christian Church, 111 S. Downey. The food pantry is open at 1 p.m. on Thursdays throughout the year. Contact them at 317-936-9639 to offer assistance, volunteer, or find out more about eligibility.
• Emerson Ave. Baptist Church at 308 Emerson Ave. offers a food pantry from 10:00-11:30 a.m. on the first Friday of the each month. The pantry boundaries are 16th to the north, Brookville to the South, Shadeland on the east, and Sherman on the West. Call the church office at 317-356-0965 for more information.
• Old Bethel United Methodist Church has a food pantry at 8032 E. 21st St. directly across from the church. They are open Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. They serve Warren Township, with boundaries 38th St. to the north, Troy to the south, Carroll Rd. to the east, and Emerson Ave. to the west. For more information, call them at 317-354-8858.
• GaiaWorks, inside the Magic Candle at 203 S. Audubon in Irvington. Gaia Works hosts a large food pantry for seniors and others in need, and has been helping others for many years. Call 317-357-1101 for more information about the
In addition to the many pantries for the needy, there are food boxes at the Emerson Ave. Baptist Church, another at 17th and Gladstone, and another in the North Brookside neighborhood. These outside food boxes allow the hungry to discretely take the donated food they need. Consider donating canned goods in these boxes, as well as at pantries, during Hunger Action Month.