Charities struggling to keep up with growing need

Associated Press
December 5, 2010
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Indiana charities say they're giving out record amounts of food and are struggling to keep up with demand this year as the economy continues to sputter despite a dip in unemployment.

Many say they're bracing for a bigger increase in need as thousands of Hoosiers face losing unemployment benefits this month.

Mike Miller, chief operating officer for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, said the current economic downturn is "like nothing we have seen in our 30-year history."

Officials say 87 percent of food pantries are seeing an increase in clients as more than 90,000 people in central Indiana alone have fallen into poverty this year.

LaTheda Noonan, manager at the Interchurch Food Pantry in Franklin, said the charity fed more than 3,100 people in October, a 14 percent increase over last year. People who once donated to the food pantry are now among those seeking help, she said. Donations have dropped 50 percent from last year.

Officials at the Midwest Food Bank say they expect to collect an additional 3.5 million pounds of food this year over last year, but it won't be enough to help the 60,000 to 70,000 people served at its Indianapolis-area agencies.

The food bank serves about 220 organizations. It has 50 more on its waiting list, and others are starting to apply.

"The face of the needy is changing in America," said John Whitaker, executive director of operations at the pantry. "It used to be the transient on your street. Now it's your neighbor."

The need comes even as a national report showed charitable giving was up this year.

The survey by the National Research Collaborative showed that 36 percent of charities reported an increase in donations in the first nine months of this year, compared with 23 percent in the same period last year.

"It's pretty pitiful to say when 36 percent say giving is up, that it's a good year," said Melissa Brown, associate director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which was a partner in the survey.


  • Funding
    Wouldn't it be great if the Township Trustees across the State would utilize the $230 million of surplus cash in accounts and provide emergency poor relief by depositing some of that cash in food banks across the State. A huge percentage of Township Trustees only serve 2 people or less on an annual basis and yet retain reserves and refuse to request less funds from the tax payers and instead accumulate reserves. See League of Women Voters study on Township Trustees.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

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  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.