Hunger isn’t just a problem in third-world countries. “Our most recent figures from USDA say that more than one million Hoosiers are at risk of hunger, and for children, it’s one of four,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) the state association of Indiana’s eleven regional food banks. “We expect to provide more total pounds of food this year than last.” To aid in the effort to alleviate at least some of that hunger, Farm Credit Mid-America has stepped up for the fourth straight year to make a donation of $25,000 to Indiana Pork’s “Million Meals for the Hungry” program. “If we can just be a small part of helping to feed those in need, I don’t know of anything better we could be doing with our Community Giving Program dollars,” said Craig Blume, Farm Credit’s regional vice president for Northwest Indiana.
The Million Meals program was started in 2009 as a partnership between Indiana Pork and agricultural industry partners and individuals. Together they committed to donating one million servings of whole-hog ground pork to FIsH. The program delivered its millionth meal in October 2011, but the need has continued and so has the program. To date, approximately 1.5 million pork meals have been delivered. “Reaching the one millionth meal was the goal of the program, however, the Indiana Pork Board of Directors felt it was important to continue the momentum and the relationship with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry,” said Josh Trenary, executive director of Indiana Pork. “The need is still great and our desire to serve the community in this capacity has not changed.”
With this fourth donation, Farm Credit has now provided $125,000 to the Million Meals program, which has provided 500,000 servings of the high-quality protein. Bryant explained that it’s difficult for clients to buy protein, and also expensive for the agencies. She said that while the regional food banks have adequate storage capacity, many of the 1,700 food pantries and soup kitchens that FIsH works with in the state don’t. “Farm Credit’s been a fantastic partner since the inception of the Million Meals program,” said Bryant. “They’re very active in their communities and know well what the needs are and how the local agencies are doing their best to meet those needs. We really appreciate their insightfulness and generosity.” Blume said that giving back to the communities they serve is one of Farm Credit’s core values. “Our Community Giving Program is a key element of who we are.”