Hunger-relief agencies report decline in year-end giving

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Two Indianapolis-based not-for-profit hunger relief agencies are reporting a significant decline in donations compared to previous years.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana reported seeing a 10 percent to 15 percent decrease in donations for the year compared to last year, and Second Helpings said it had only hit 50 percent of its goal for monthly donations, as of Monday. Usually, the organization is at 75 percent by that time of the month.

“While funds and food do continue to come in, the pace and volume is off significantly from prior years,” Gleaners CEO John Elliott said in a written statement. “Should the trend continue throughout the year, the impact would be significant—over two million fewer meals provided to those in need.”

Gleaners, founded in 1980, distributes food to more than 230 agencies in 21 counties in central and southeastern Indiana.

Second Helpings, which collects donated perishable and overstocked food and prepares it for children and adults, also reported that the number of holiday gifts (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve) is down by 20 percent and the average gift amount is down 30 percent from last year.

Both organizations, like many other not-for-profits, expect a steady wave of year-end donations, when many people decide to give to charitable causes in time to be able to claim a tax deduction.

Second Helpings CEO Jennifer Vigran said 45 percent of individual donations usually come during November and December.

“Donations in December are down and right now we are on pace to see one of the lowest levels of holiday giving in years,” Vigran said in a written statement. “As an organization that relies on individuals for more than half of our revenue, this is a troubling trend.”

And according to the Central Indiana Council on Aging, which is part of the Indy Hunger Network with Second Helpings and Gleaners, the need isn’t decreasing. Orion Bell, CEO of CICOA Aging and In-Home Services, said 20 percent of seniors struggle with hunger daily because they lack the money to maintain a healthy diet or don’t have access to transportation.

“We’re hoping Hoosiers recognize the necessity of hunger-relief efforts at organizations like Gleaners and Second Helpings and take action before the end of the year,” Vigran said.

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