Lafayette, IN. – In order to meet the demand for emergency food resources, Food Finders Food Bank is seeking local support to guarantee a mobile pantry food distribution occurs in Fulton County at least once a month through 2018. Now in its eighth year, the Mobile Pantry Program has proven to be a critical resource for children, families, seniors, and veterans who have no idea where they will get their next meal. In 2017, the program distributed 75,405 pounds of food to 1,286 households across Fulton County.

The Mobile Pantry Program is crucial for rural communities in the counties served by the food bank where there are few to zero emergency food resources. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, 12.4 percent or 2,550 residents in Fulton County are food insecure – meaning they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Of this number, 31 percent are considered to be “working poor” meaning they earn too much to qualify for federal assistance programs like SNAP, WIC, utility assistance, etc.

Food Finders’ Chief Operating Officer, Kier Crites Scherger says, “We see and hear stories on a daily basis from clients who fall into this where they earn too much to qualify for federal aid, but still not enough to make ends meet.” Scherger continues, “Although unemployment is low, issues of underemployment, stagnant wages, and rising cost of living are contributing factors to why families continue to struggle. These are the families that are of upmost concern to us. For these folks, programs like the Mobile Pantry, BackPack, and emergency food pantries are the only safety net they can lean on when times get tough.” She goes on to say, “It is our priority to ensure that no one goes hungry, and that everyone has access to food. Once their basic needs are met, they can begin to concentrate on the larger issues and rising out of poverty.”

Food Finders’ Mobile Pantry Program directly serves clients in areas where food is needed in an effort to supplement other hunger relief agencies in the community. The Mobile Pantry truck travels around North Central Indiana providing nutritious, perishable and non-perishable food. The truck provides at least 6,500 pounds of food at each distribution, typically enough to serve around140 families with 40-50 pounds of food. Each truckload includes a variety of products such as frozen meat, canned goods, produce, baked goods, and laundry soap. While the program continues to prove as one of the most efficient methods for the food bank to distribute food, it is also costly. Ensuring a mobile pantry distribution takes place monthly, costs the food bank $18,000 per county.

The 2018 mobile pantry calendar is now open. Food Finders seeks program supporters to bring the mobile pantry to Fulton County in the form of Monthly Host Sponsors at $550 per month, Corporate Program Supporters interested in helping to underwrite the annual cost of the program for the county with giving levels starting at $2,500, and organizations willing to lend their location and parking lot to the program.

For those interested in sponsoring a mobile pantry or learning more about the program, contact Alex Buckles, mobile pantry coordinator, at 765.471.0062 x 208 or abuckles@food-finders.org. A complete list of upcoming mobile pantry dates, by county, can be found at www.food-finders.org.

SOURCE: News release from Food Finders

About Food Finders: Since 1981, Food Finders Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, has worked to provide full service programs that meet the nutritional needs of thousands of hungry families in North Central Indiana. The food bank operates programs to cost-effectively secure donated and purchased food, provide food to families in need, and educate the community about the efficient use of food resources. Food Finders distributed more than nine million pounds of food annually, throughout the 16 counties it serves. For more information or to make a donation, contact Food Finders Food Bank, Inc. at 765.471.0062 or visit www.food-finders.org.