In Marion County, more than 10,000 people use food pantries to provide or supplement their groceries each month. These pantries often run solely on volunteers and they are always looking for more. They need food donations as well, and cash donations to help purchase food that they don’t get through donations or from local hunger relief organizations Gleaners, Midwest Food Bank, or Second Helpings.
The Indy Hunger Network is dedicated to supporting local pantries. Last week Jump IN and many other organizations working on food access, food insecurity, and hunger relief, attended the Indy Hunger Network’s Food Pantry Summit at Light of the World Church, to learn about the work local pantries are doing, how food insecurity is being addressed in different neighborhoods and to network with colleagues for collaboration opportunities.
While our partner organizations are primarily focused on hunger relief, Jump IN’s role is to address food access: helping ensure that food available to those in need offers healthy options and that needing food assistance does not condemn someone to poor nutrition. Last year was the first year for the Food Pantry Summit and we were very encouraged by the pantries’ interest in promoting nutritious foods and stocking healthy options. This year, the enthusiasm for ensuring the pantry offerings included healthy options and encouraging making healthy choices increased markedly.
We have many tips for soliciting healthy food donations and for encouraging people to make healthy choices when accessing food in the pantries. Here is a list of healthy, nonperishable food to share with companies, schools, or other neighborhood organizations when soliciting food donations. Consider the layout of the pantry. Are healthy foods like fruits and vegetables featured first, or are highly processed, less nutritious food prominently displayed? These “healthy nudges” can go a long way in encouraging clients to select healthier food.
Jump IN has additional resources to help support healthy pantry efforts. Visit our Resource Hub to search for other tips and tools to share in your pantry, your school, your childcare, your workplace, and your home.
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