I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across this post in one of my groups that was really touching. This woman shared that her mom had passed away, and while cleaning out her home, she stumbled upon a bunch of handbags. Turns out, her mom was a bit of a handbag aficionado. Instead of just letting them sit there, she decided to do something really beautiful with them. She started making women's blessings bags out of them. You know, those bags filled with essentials for homeless folks.

But then, in the comments, someone brought up something that hit me hard. They mentioned putting a can opener in those blessings bags because a lot of people who get canned food donations can't even open them. It's heartbreaking to think about, isn't it? Just imagine not having access to food, and not even being able to open what you do have. It's a stark reminder of the reality some people face every day.

How Many People Experience Food Insecurity in Vanderburgh Co?

According to Stacker.com, over 20,000 people in Vanderburgh Co. experience food insecurity.

Vanderburgh County food insecurity by the numbers
- Insecurity rate: 12.1%
- Insecure population: 21,790 people
- Cost per meal: $3.52
- Annual food budget shortfall: $13,559,000

The percentage is slightly higher than the state average.

Indiana food insecurity by the numbers
- Insecurity rate: 10.7%
- Insecure population: 730,480 people
- Cost per meal: $3.17
- Annual food budget shortfall: $409,377,000

Why is Vanderburgh County's Insecurity Rate Higher?

Part of the problem in Vanderburgh Co. is that a large portion of the county is in a "food desert." According to a story in 2022 by 14 News, about 40% of the county is in a food desert. The story states that, "The USDA says a person is in a food desert if they live more than a one-mile walk from a grocery store that offers fresh produce. People in rural parts of the county who are more than 10 miles away from a grocery store are also considered to be in a food desert."

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What Are We Doing About It?

A non-profit organization called Feed Evansville aims to make food more accessible. One of the ways that they do this is through Little Free Pantries.

Little Pantries offer a zero-barrier access point to food to help fill the gaps in the food system. Little Free Pantries give neighborhoods and communities the ability to help fill gaps in our food system and are a no-barrier, 24/7 access point to food.

Recently, they announced on Facebook that they installed two new locations in Evansville.

"We have recently added two new locations for our Free Little Pantries! Please consider making a donation to one of our, now ten, locations so that we can continue to keep them stocked!"

Feed Evansville
Feed Evansville

What Should We Fill It With?

If you want to help but aren't sure what's needed, just think of the things you might need. Here's what my friend Bobby suggests:

  • Do's: Things like canned vegetables and proteins, personal care items, and paper goods. Kid-friendly non-perishables, crayons, and seasonal items.
  • Don'ts: Nothing sharps (razors), no chemicals or previously worn clothing. Nothing harmful or illegal

Read More: Woman Installs a 'Little Free Pantry' on Evansville's West Side

Junior League Evansville Mobile Grocery Store

In addition to the Little Free Pantries, the Junior League of Evansville offers a Mobile Grocery Store.

Feed Evansville
Feed Evansville

Most of the spring dates have passed but there are a few in May coming up.

Finally, Feed Evansville needs donations and volunteers. You can help by making a monetary donation or stocking one of the pantries above. They also are in need of volunteers. To get in contact with someone about volunteering, fill out the form on their site. 

More Evansville Resources

Evansville Community Resource Guide

If you have found yourself in need of a little extra help, you are not alone and there are many resources available within the Evansville community. Below you will find resources for everything from childcare to housing assistance and financial assistance to budgeting help. There is a wealth of resources available in our community.

Gallery Credit: Kat Mykals

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