Walking with someone is different than supporting them

I have always been a pretty independent person, even when I have a need. Trying a complete a project without the right kind of tools to use can add a lot of frustration, but may not prevent it from getting finished. I once dug 63 holes with a shovel in the middle of summer because I didn’t have the money to rent an auger. It was painful, but I got it done. I really don’t like to borrow tools from someone else either. I struggle asking for help. I will loan tools to people but I would rather help with the project. I think working with someone on their project can be rewarding and is more helpful to that person. We can usually learn together.

A few years ago, I was trained as a Stephen Minister. As a Stephen Minister, I was meeting with someone weekly and discussing what is going on in that person’s life. The care receiver may be in the last stages of life, or they may be much younger and need a confidential relationship outside of their family. In the training, we were exposed to the idea of not taking on the person’s issues as an attempt to help them, but to be a good listener, giving them an outlet free from judgment. As I would walk alongside that person, they could hear themselves and sometimes might find answers they were looking for without intending to look for any. I suppose on some level the meeting might only be an hour, to say what you think or wish you could say to others too close for comfort. My viewpoint of people struggling with lots of interrelated issues mainly brought on by financial challenges continues to evolve over time. Food insecurity, lack of transportation, child care, educational limitations and poor personal choices along with a few others I didn’t mention kind of swirl around you, if you are unable to earn enough money to end the cycle of poverty.

The answer isn’t always giving someone what they lack, but may be in walking with them to help them discover what they can do for themselves. You and I are both able to accomplish more than we think we can.

Sometimes we just need to hear that enough times that we might begin to believe it. If I don’t like where I am or where I seem to be heading, I may need to change the road I’m on to get to a different place. It also helps to know someone who has a map or can even lend you their GPS while they walk with you.

The reality is that Second Harvest Food Bank will not end food insecurity by reaching some number of pounds of distributed food. We perform a very valuable service in 8 counties that must be accompanied by sustainable personal change. For some, complete independence is not feasible, for others, being less dependent has to be a high priority.


Written by Tim Kean

Read more

Federal summer recess means talking about the fall session

Child Nutrition Re-authorization will be voted on this fall by Congress. Among the list of programs this bill covers are the School Breakfast and School Lunch Programs, After-school Meal Program now offered in 14 states and Summer Food. It’s hard to argue that we will not be as successful if our children aren’t learning as they should because they are hungry, and cannot achieve because they aren’t healthy. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides federal funds to after-school programs to serve meals to children age 18 and under during the school year. The meals can be served at any time during the after-school program, either at a traditional dinner time or immediately when the students arrive after school depending on the length of the after-school program. An after-school snack can also be served in addition to the meal.

We have reached out to 6th District Congressman Luke Messer to stop by Second Harvest Food Bank while home this summer to tour, volunteer and discuss some of the priorities for struggling people from his district. He has agreed to come on August 4th after hosting a Job Fair at Ball State University the same day. The CNR legislation is one of the topics we will want to discuss. The opportunity to discuss any topic face to face with a federal legislator is a rare occurrence, but one that should always be pursued.

Advocacy is one of the 3 areas of focus for our organization, along with Food Distribution and Education. I had an opportunity to meet face to face with 5th District Congresswoman Susan Brooks about a year ago in Anderson and Senator Joe Donnelly a year before that. Earlier this year, all of the Feeding America food banks in the state went to the Indiana Statehouse representing Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, our state food bank association to meet with as many legislators as we could corral to discuss funding from the state to buy food that would not make it to market at a reduced cost from Indiana farmers. We were asking for an increase in the state budget that would put us on par with the Kentucky state budget and food banks. The increase didn’t happen, but we aren’t done talking about it either.

I can recall the faces of many hungry children, some were classmates, some were shopping with parents in the grocery store where I worked and some were in line at the food pantry where I volunteered. All had sad eyes, always sad eyes. I think over time a childhood of sad eyes can give way to frustrated, angry or desperate eyes of adulthood. When a child has a full belly there is a change in personality. A special needs teacher who was getting some snacks from us for her class described the change in behavior she saw in as little as 15 minutes. Someone who was disruptive or lethargic became someone who listened and learned.

Written by Tim Kean

Read more

A Local Partnership in Action

Anderson based, Carter Express held a bonus tailgate food distribution for Madison County residents on June 5, at the Nichol Avenue tailgate location in the old Kmart parking lot. In conjunction with Second Harvest, this extra tailgate was made possible by the money raised by Carter’s fund drive and covered the cost of sponsorship for the tailgate.

As a company we want to do as much as we can to serve our local community, said Jessica Paugh Warnke, Director of Marketing and Communications at Carter Express. Second Harvest is the largest provider of food pantries and meeting the needs of residents in Madison County so it was a perfect fit for us. At Carter Express, tailgate sponsorship such as this one come from the employee-ran Community Action Committee (CAC) who work with multiple nonprofits in Madison County.

“We believe in what Second Harvest is trying to achieve and we’d all like to see hunger erased in the community,” Warnke said. “By partnering with an organization like Second Harvest that has so much experience and such a good reputation, it’s an easy way for us to give to the community with a partner who knows what they’re doing.”

In these upcoming months, hunger is at the forefront of the CAC’s focus, especially with children getting ready to be home for the summer and not having access to the free meals they would get during the academic year. “Hunger not only affects the employees but it affects everybody in the community,” CAC co-chair Robyn Bogenschutz said. “It affects the employees because we live here. We see it. Just driving down the road, we see it every day; people on the street corners needing money for food. We want to be part of the community and help make where we live and work better.”

Carter provided the opportunity for their employees to help in all logistics of the extra tailgate such as driving, collecting the food from Second Harvest, setting up, tearing down and distributing food in addition to donating the money.

The CAC logs all of the volunteer hours, all of their other initiatives as well as the amount of grants given. The log is sent back to their parent company, Hitachi, Ltd. Hitachi does a national food drive every year and as one of the partnering companies, Carter has been involved for four years.

President and CEO John Paugh said “I’m proud of our employees for the work they have done with the CAC so far and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Carter’s community advocacy.”

Second Harvest is thrilled to have this community partnership with Carter Express. The total support for this food distribution was a great example of what is possible when people respond to the needs of the community. Thousands of struggling people benefited from the Carter Express team on June 5. Contact me at tkean@curehunger.org or 765-287-8698 if your organization would like to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank as well.

Written by Tim Kean

Read more

Activities are a Buzzing at Second Harvest

We are in the midst of our strategic plan refresh which will take us into 2018. This is a realistic look at today and a visionary look to our future. Local relationships are expanding. Purdue University School of Technology continues to engage more interest from local companies who see this as a direct way to engage the topic of food insecurity and what role they could play. Our relationship with Ball State University continues to expand the opportunities in immersive learning for students from several areas of study. Students are seeking us out for prime internship opportunities. Established professor networking continues to provide meaningful team projects for several classes with additional focus in Public Relations and Journalism. Anderson University will also provide some opportunities for student and faculty engagement as we move toward the reality of a Hunger Free Zone established in the community hopefully during 2015. This would involve several additional programming components in addition to food distribution, more to come later.

Other areas getting attention are diverse. We are currently vetting the idea of establishing a Food Hub in Delaware County for East Central Indiana. This is a little different than a farmers market. The closest one currently in operation is in Greenfield. We have the facility footprint large enough to support one and it would be very much in line with what we do every day, to get perishable foods moved to consumption points.

Testing is underway for a potential alternative program we currently operate that is directed to low-income seniors funded through the USDA. We believe we can provide more food to more low-income seniors with less government red-tape than the current program allows. We are excited to get some feedback from seniors, distribution site volunteers and potential funders from our test counties to help us reach a decision. We hope to have a decision by the end of this month.

Composting has been on our radar for a few years now. We are working with Farmished, another not-for-profit who has been in conversation with us for almost a year. Michael Wolfe, Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Farmished and his team are focused on establishing a sustainable food system in the local community. We can supply a lot of the material (food) that is past its prime to feed the compost pile and together we can produce a marketable product. The acreage that Farmished now owns is going to be a great site for several programming pieces we hope to develop together. We are waiting to hear results from a grant request for solar panels (educational programming and reduced energy footprint), also funding for some of the composting equipment. Community garden activity and food distribution are also part of the overall plan.

We are also visioning some new community-based educational activities and revenue generating entertainment located on our complex of just over 36 acres, all aimed at providing us with an additional sustainable source of income. Looks like 2015 will be eventful.

Written by Tim Kean

Read more