My Holiday Wish: An End to Food Insecurity

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Like so many of you, I gathered around the table with family this Thanksgiving in front of heaping platters of food. Good food. Healthy food. Ok, some not so healthy if you are like my wife and don’t count pumpkin pie as a serving of fruit. Point is, we had an abundance of all kinds of food.

I started to think about all the blessings I have in my life, and one that I often take for granted is the availability and access to food. We have fresh produce and meats at multiple groceries near my home and my office. They are seemingly everywhere.

That’s what makes it unfathomable that nearly 900,000 people in Indiana are hungry. That includes about 270,000 in Marion County who depend on food assistance. These are folks who often not only lack money to buy food, but also live in neighborhoods where it’s easier to get a pack of cigarettes than an apple.


People in Marion County
Depend on Food Assistance

Food deserts in Indianapolis

According to 2019 data from the SAVI program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, one-fifth of Indianapolis residents live in a food desert. A food desert is defined as a low-income neighborhood where at least 200 people live more than a mile from a grocery story.

That could make some conclude that the answer is to build more grocery stores and neighborhood markets. But it’s not that easy. Food insecurity is a complex issue closely tied to poverty, although people living above the poverty line can also experience it. It often overlaps other issues, like the lack of affordable housing and transportation or the presence of chronic or acute health problems, high medical costs, or low wages.

The complexity of it became even more apparent during the pandemic, when organizations providing food services—such as CICOA’s Meals and More service that provides meals daily to nearly 2,000 low-income seniors—were challenged to serve even more. As I talk to leaders of our local food banks and shelters, unequivocally they say the need for food has increased astronomically since the start of the pandemic.

Community organizations fighting hunger in Central Indiana

We have so many great organizations in our community doing great work to help feed the hungry, but we need to do more, so people aren’t forced to decide between buying medicine or food, or between feeding their pets or themselves. If you think that is a stereotype, it’s not.

One of my goals for 2022 is to see an increased community effort to fight food insecurities. That’s why CICOA will continue to be part of the Indy Hunger Network, a collaboration of many community partners  working to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food.

Indy Hunger Network (IHN) is doing amazing work. Community Compass™, designed by IHN, is a free, easy tool that shows people where they can find food assistance across the state. Among many programs, IHN also hosts cooking classes to help people learn to cook more nutritious meals.

Community gardens are increasing access to food as well as teaching people about growing their own food or working together to grow and share produce. This summer Indy Food Council launched a pilot program called Good Food for All, which provided nearly 14,000 boxes of healthy produce to local families.

Finding solutions together

A lot of good is happening, but food insecurity remains a complex problem, and there are no easy fixes. That’s why it is so important to bring together people to understand the problem, and then be aggressive and proactive about implementing sustainable solutions.

As I enjoy Christmas dinner this year with my family, I’ll be thankful for all that I have. But I also will remember those who are not as fortunate and know that together as a community we can – and must – do better.

If you want to be part of the solution, please reach out to me, and let’s all work together to nourish our community.

CICOA is fighting senior hunger by providing home-delivered meals, lunches at neighborhood meal sites, and discounted meal vouchers. Your gift is urgently needed to make sure no senior goes hungry during the holidays and throughout the year.

CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.

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