Children in East Central Indiana

While hunger, food insecurity and poverty affect people of all ages, a major focus of the Second Harvest Food Bank is on childhood hunger. Consider these statistics:


of children are food insecure
in East Central Indiana


of children are living in poverty
in East Central Indiana

Right now, these children may go to bed hungry tonight which is a problem that, together, we can prevent. Second Harvest provides a variety of programs to assist with child hunger including:

Long-Term Initiatives

Our goal with The Big Idea Initiative is to help raise parent engagement by strengthening the relationships between the school and the families. We turn routine food distributions, filling a need week to week, into an opportunity to connect teachers, parents, and local organizations, helping students create plans and opportunities towards a successful future.

The cycle of poverty may not be broken with this generation, but principals learned in long-range efforts aim to set children of Delaware County Captains up for resource stablity later in life.

Our Poverty Alleviation program operates Youth Enrichment each Thursday night meal session. While staff helps to plan what the children will study and how they will focus, it is a unique partnership with Ball State University that gives life to the program. Dr. Melinda Messineo, chairman of the Sociology department at BSU, envisioned a community laboratory in which her students could experience the challenges of different cultural groups. In a for-credit internship, students from sociology, social work, and sometimes other disciplines work with Captains’ children for at least one semester.

The internship has been a rich experience for the children. Not only do they get to hear about what going to college is like, but they are working and interacting with students who have been trained in understanding issues of generational poverty.

Among the enrichment modules that the students teach Conflict Resolution & Engagement, Mindfulness, Character Building and Financial Empowerment. Children 5-18 years of age fill out an application for Thursday night jobs, go through an interview, and then take on a seven-week employment opportunity which might range from setting up chairs to helping pass out give-away food at the end of the evening. For these jobs, they receive $25 to be deposited in their savings accounts, established with them when they get their first jobs during weekly Café meetings. Other financial literacy focus includes summer entrepreneurial projects that the youth do in teams. In addition, they win “Cash,” a kind of play money for good behavior, good manners, kindness to others, etc. Those “dollars” enable them to purchase items in the Café store which offers an assortment of toys and items that they can buy for themselves or purchase for siblings or parents.

The financial literacy program for children was developed in part by the Center for Economics at BSU. Other financial literacy information used by our Poverty Alleviation program and taught to other agencies in the community was co-developed with Dr. Mark Myring in the department of accounting.

Child hunger programs are a team effort. To run effectively, it’s imperative to have community support in the way of funding and with volunteers to help organize distribution to the children. If you are interested in helping with a child hunger program, contact Shawna Waters, Big Idea Coordinator, at to learn more about the opportunities in your community!


Physical Health:

Hungry children suffer from two to four times as many individual health problems as low-income children whose families do not experience food shortages. Problems can include weight loss, fatigue, headaches, irritability, frequent colds, iron-deficiency, and anemia.

Child Development:

Food insecurity puts children in jeopardy of developmental risk. Developmental risk is characterized with a slow or unusual development of children in areas such as speaking, behavior, and movement, which increases the likelihood of later problems with attention, learning, and social interaction.

School Readiness and Achievement:

Children from food insecure households are more likely to struggle in their academic development and be ill and absent from school. Food insecurity has a negative impact on children’s ability to learn in school and can lead to poor concentration.

Behavior and Mental Health:

Anxiety, negative feelings about self-worth, and hostility towards the outside world can result from food insecurity. Food insecurity has also been shown to be associated with suicide and depressive disorders among 15 to 16 year old children.