Statewide – Area legislators encourage Hoosiers who may be struggling to make ends meet and needing food assistance to turn to the state’s recently launched Operation Food program for help. Indiana’s community kitchens, pantries and food banks saw a 154% increase in visits since the onset of COVID-19, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. State Rep. Randy Frye said throughout the public health crisis and during the state’s ongoing recovery, many families need access to food and local programs are trying to keep up with the demand.
“Food pantries provide a much-needed service to the community, and some looking for help may not know what options are available,” Frye said. “Operation Food pulls together resources and gets the word out so families know where to turn and don’t go hungry.”
Indiana’s food distribution network is made up of 12 food banks, and nearly 1,750 pantries and community kitchens. To help pool resources and meet the need, State Rep. Randy Lyness said FSSA’s Operation Food connects the network to hunger relief organizations, like Indy Hunger Network and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, along with the Indiana State Health Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
“This pandemic has caused additional food insecurity issues across the state,” Lyness said. “Operation Food is one of several available tools Hoosiers can use to connect with local resources and find the help they need.”
Hoosiers can click here to see the “Food Assistance Availability Map” to find help nearby. According to State Rep. Cindy Ziemke, the map includes pantries, meal sites with packed food ready to take home and eat, and school sites feeding students throughout the summer. Information is also provided on how to make a donation to local food banks as Indiana continues to recover from the health crisis.
“Helping others in need is a big part of what makes Hoosier hospitality so special,” Ziemke said. “We have so many food pantries because Hoosiers want to help their neighbors. If we can connect people looking for resources to Operation Food, we can ensure they do not go hungry.”
Ziemke said Hoosiers can also call 211 to connect to additional resources and programs, including help with housing, utilities, and summer food service options for children.