Thumbs down: Huge Hunger
The Indy Hunger Network, a collaborative, volunteer-led coalition of all the public and private anti-hunger programs in Indy, served 3 million meals last year, according to network president Dave Miner. They aim "to create a system by 2015 that ensures anyone who is hungry can access the nutritious food they need." The challenge is immense: Marion County's nine highest-capacity food pantries in reported a 54 percent average increase in the number of clients served in 2011; a third of them reported increases of 100% or more, according to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Marion County Pantry Partners. More than 300,000 people are food insecure, according to Food America's most recent estimates. IHN has posted a volunteer matrix at IndyHunger.org that outlines the many different ways people can help. Ongoing projects include working with local farmers to increase access to fresh produce and stuffing backpacks to send home with students who do not have dependable access to food at home. IHN also encourages people facing food insecurity to call the 2-1-1 helpline for assistance. Operators can also help connect callers to a variety of other services, from employment to health care.