Meat the Needs

Protein is a hard-to-come-by food commodity at food pantries and kitchens in northern Indiana. Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry is helping get that protein to those who need it by paying local meat processors to process wild game and livestock.

ELKHART — Community Foundation of Elkhart County recently awarded Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry a $15,000 grant to be used to serve Elkhart County residents. These funds will help Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry pay processing fees for large game and livestock donations within this area.

Some think that hunger only affects the homeless or unemployed — that’s not the case.

According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, a third of Indiana residents who work and who are still food insecure don’t qualify for food-assistance programs. These residents have to turn to charitable food assistance networks such as food banks, pantries, hunger ministries, etc.

The hardest commodity for food banks to obtain is protein.

Protein is an important component of every cell in the body and one of the most important nutrients for brain and body development in children. Those affected by food insecurity are often at high-risk for obesity and diet-related diseases due to the lack of quality in the foods that they can afford, according to Feeding America.

Founded in 2011, Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry asks hunters and farmers to take their large game or livestock to a participating meat processor where the donation is processed, packaged and frozen (at no cost to the donor). Local hunger-relief agencies are contacted for pick up and distribution of this nutritious protein back into the community.

“Our goal is to provide this protein-packed meat to hunger-relief agencies within Indiana to assist those in need of additional food services,” said Debra Treesh, executive director of Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry. “Getting groceries at local food banks and pantries guarantees healthy meals for families when they need extra help. This program works to ensure that these agencies have meat, allowing them to provide fresh nutritious protein for hungry local families. This effort will help build stronger, healthier communities by meeting a basic need — reducing food insecurity and empowering people by getting them back on track to hunger-free, independent living.”

Treesh added, “The grant provided by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County will pay to process about 12,300 pounds of donated large game and livestock — providing almost 50,000 more meals through area hunger-relief agencies to residents in need within their communities.”

In the last eight years, Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry has helped to distribute approximately 1.4 million pounds of meat to Indiana food banks, providing more than 5.5 million meals to Hoosiers in need.

“To date, we have 87 participating meat processors working throughout Indiana to aid us in our mission and to ensure residents in need are served,” said Amber Zecca, Fund Development Director of Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry. “There are five meat processors who work hard within Elkhart County and do all the processing at a reduced rate so that we are able to make grants like this go so much further.”

On average, the cost of this donated meat is about $1.22 per pound, which is 31 cents per meal.

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