Food Finders’ flagship Agency Partner Program provides the single largest source of food for a network of over 160 hunger relief agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, among others. A vitally important piece of the hunger relief system, these agencies are a consistent source of free meals and groceries for hungry families within their communities, as well as providing additional services and referral mechanisms to additional public and private sources of support.
In FY14 (January – December 2014), Food Finders distributed more than four million pounds of food and household products through these agencies, totaling 65 percent of total food distribution. Through their partnership with Food Finders, these agencies provide a highly cost-effective method of large-scale food distribution to communities across the state.
In Indiana, one in five children struggle with hunger – kids enrolled in free and reduced lunch programs are often left with little or no food during the weekends. The BackPack Program ensures that these children have something to eat between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Each Friday, students enrolled in the program receive a backpack filled with nutritious, non-perishable, kid-friendly food. Teams of volunteer Packing Partners fill the bags each week. The BackPack Program is made possible through volunteers, generous donations and grants.
When school lets out for the summer, the free school lunches so many children depend on suddenly become unavailable, creating an area-wide crisis among food insecure households, putting pressure on families to provide five to 10 additional meals per child each week, and often increasing financial obligations for additional child care.
Food Finders’ Summer Feeding Program leverages federally-funded resources to provide meals and groceries to children during summer break. The meals are served on-site in low-income neighborhoods and community locations. In 2015, more than 22,000 meals were served in communities spanning six counties.
The Food Finders Mobile Pantry Outreach Program takes a truckload of food out across its 16 county service area to efficiently reach the people that need it most while supplementing the work of other hunger relief agencies. It is a “farmers market” style distribution. The truck is filled with fresh produce, meat, baked goods and a variety of other items.
Mobile Pantry events are sponsored by area organizations and businesses in cooperation with Food Finders.
Homebound seniors struggling with food insecurity experience unique challenges. Special dietary requirements make it difficult to fully utilize traditional food resources, such as food pantries and soup kitchens, and mobility challenges often leave them with no recourse when the food runs out, as they are unable to travel to grocery stores, food pantries, or even a nearby convenience store for help.
Piloted in 2013, Food Finders’ Senior Grocery Program serves four sites across its16-county region, bringing monthly deliveries of staple items to area seniors struggling with hunger.