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New Study Shows 1 in 6 Hoosiers Use Food Pantries
Updated October 2, 2014 7:14 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - New study by Feeding Indiana's Hungry and Feeding America shows that 1 in 6 Hoosiers, or an estimated 1.1 million people in Indiana turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.

Of the households served by Indiana's food banks and programs, 43 percent include a child under 18 and 25 percent contain a senior aged 60 or over.

Nationally, Hunger in America 2014 found that more than 46.5 million people turn to agencies and programs of the Feeding America network of food banks every year. Feeding Indiana's Hungry is a Partner State Association of Feeding America, and all eleven member food banks are Feeding America members.

The study documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by food banks in Indiana - their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally-representative study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. military and adult students receiving charitable food assistance.

"The results of this study show us that the face of hunger is one we would recognize in every Hoosier community," said Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana's Hungry. "Many of our neighbors who are seeking food assistance have jobs, raise families, work toward education and struggle with health problems, like all of us. Too often, our clients also have to make unimaginable choices to get enough food for their families. Everyone agrees that hunger is something no Hoosier should face. It is important to remember the critical work food banks do every day, and how much more we can do together to solve hunger across Indiana."

"The Hunger in America 2014 findings demonstrate the urgent need for all of us to address hunger in our communities," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America. "This data provides a factual basis for decisions about how we as a nation approach hunger relief and protect our most vulnerable citizens."

Key statistics from the report include:

  • Use of food assistacne is widespread
  • Indiana's food banks serve at least 1.1 million people annually, 33 percent of whom are children and 13 percent are seniors.
  • Among all clients, 18 percent are black, 4 percent are Latino, and 71 percent are white.
  • 9 percent of adult clients are students.
  • 22 percent of households include someone who is a veteran or who has ever served in the military.
  • 69 percent of affiliated charitable agencies employ no paid staff/are operated exclusively by volunteers.

Clients struggle with health issues

  • 85 percent of households report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food because they could not afford healthier options.
  • 77 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
  • 34 percent of households include a member with diabetes.
  • 64 percent households have a member with high blood pressure.

Tough choices and Trade-offs are made to keep food on the table

Following are the choices client households reported making in the past 12 months:

  • 77 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities.
  • 39 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 78 percent report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation.
  • 44 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 77 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care.
  • 45 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 63 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing.
  • 31 percent of these households are making the choice every month.
  • 40 percent report choosing between paying for food and paying for education expenses.
  • 19 percent are making the choice every month.
  • 60 percent of households reported using three or more coping strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months.

The frequency of these strategies among all households include:

  • 62 percent report eating food past the expiration date;
  • 24 percent report growing food in a garden;
  • 43 percent report pawning or selling personal property;
  • 85 percent report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food;
  • 35 percent report watering down food or drinks;
  • 62 percent report receiving help from friends or family.

Low wages, underemployment and unemployment are driving needs

  • 21 percent of respondents have faced foreclosure or eviction in the past five years.
  • Among all households served by Indiana agencies and programs, 61 percent have at least one member who has been employed in the past year.
  • Among all households with an employed person, the person with the longest employment duration is more likely to be employed full-time (59 percent) than part-time (41 percent). In comparison, the national average shows the person with the longest employment duration to be part-time (57 percent) rather than full-time (43 percent).

Hunger in America 2014 was conducted using rigorous academic research standards and was peer reviewed by a technical advisory team including researchers from American University, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Urban Institute. Nationally, confidential responses were collected on electronic tablets by 6,000 trained volunteer data collectors.

The national study was funded by The Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Indiana report was funded by Kroger.

About Feeding Indiana's Hungry

Feeding Indiana's Hungry, Inc. is the statewide association of Feeding America affiliated food banks. Our eleven member food banks serve more than 1,700 agencies in all 92 counties, providing emergency food assistance to Hoosiers in need.

Feeding Indiana's Hungry, Inc. food banks statewide include:

  • Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Gary
  • Food Bank of Northern Indiana, South Bend
  • Food Finders Food Bank, Inc., Lafayette
  • Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, Ft. Wayne
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Inc., Muncie
  • Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Indianapolis
  • Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank, Terre Haute
  • Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Bloomington
  • Tri-State Food Bank, Inc., Evansville
  • Dare to Care Food Bank, Louisville, KY
  • Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati, OH
About Feeding America

Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46.5 million people through food pantries and meal programs in communities throughout America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at

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