Gifts to Foundation Help Nourish Our Communities

Food insecurity is a problem that has only grown more severe in recent months as inflation dealt a blow to families’ grocery budgets.

Fortunately, the Franciscan Health Foundation is actively targeting the issue with its Food Insecurity Initiative with ongoing plans to meet the needs of those experiencing hunger.

First, donor funds have helped meet the immediate need for food within the community. Working with local food banks, Franciscan has provided mobile markets to distribute healthy food in several locations, including Indianapolis, Hammond, Crown Point, Rensselaer and Crawfordsville.

This kind of food distribution is just the beginning of what will be a multi-phase effort.

“Food insecurity doesn’t stand on its own. There are other barriers and social needs that people have if they’re food insecure. Ultimately, we want our food programs to be complemented by access to healthcare, case management and nutrition education,” said Kate Hill-Johnson, administrative director of Community Health Improvement.

Permanent pantries like the Fresh Start Markets in Hammond and Crown Point require infrastructure and investment. Franciscan’s pantry in Greenwood is open to the public and operates as a hub for the Indianapolis area. It is here where volunteers put together bags of healthy, shelf-stable food to assist patients in the Indianapolis and Mooresville hospitals, as well as the physician residency program clinic.

Hill-Johnson said she would like to expand the to-go bag program to Olympia Fields and Rensselaer. The bags cost about $30 each, providing three days of healthy, easy-to-prepare food for two people.

“We complement our food efforts throughout the system with a program called Cooking Matters. It is a program designed to help young families learn the basics of stretching their food resources, preparing healthy meals and getting their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables,” Hill-Johnson said.

Partnerships with Purdue Extension and agencies that are part of Franciscan’s Social Impact Partnership Program (SIPP) have helped the food initiative reach further into rural communities, where transportation to food sources can be an issue.

With roughly one in seven Hoosier households remaining food insecure, the Franciscan Health Foundation will continue to support these efforts with the help of donors.