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Understanding food insecurity and food resources in Putnam County

One in nine Americans struggle to have access to enough food, also known as food insecurity.  Putnam County has a 12.9% projected insecurity rate for 2021 (Feeding America), or 4,560 people in the county are estimated to be food insecure.  When households have trouble getting enough food, this can lead to stress and other health problems.  Many resources can provide help to get food.  One of the most well-known food resources is a food pantry.

What is a food pantry?

A food pantry is a place where individuals or families can receive food items for free.  Food pantries are different from grocery stores in a few ways.  Food pantries are usually open only a few hours each week.  Also, some pantries let people choose the foods they can take, but some pantries provide a container of foods already selected.

Who can shop at a food pantry?

Some food pantries have rules about who can receive food to make sure that food goes to those most in need.  Contacting the local food pantry (some have websites/social media) is the best way to learn about who can use its services.  In Putnam County, we have a Pantry Coalition.  A list of participating pantries can be found on the Putnam County Pantry Coalition Facebook page.

Where does food pantry food come from?

Food pantries receive foods from food banks, which are warehouses that store donated food.  Food banks receive food from local and national resources, such as food drives and donations, extra products from businesses, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), or a national hunger-relief agency such as Feeding America.  To find out more about local pantries in Putnam County, contact Mindy Duckett at duckett@purdue.edu.

What food choices are right for families?

Many factors affect what foods are right for each person.  Age, food allergies, mental health, and other health conditions all affect the food choices people make.  Instead of focusing on “right” or “wrong” food choices, think of foods as providing energy for daily activities and helping to feel satisfied.  Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, meats, and beans are all great sources of easy and more affordable food people can find year-round.

Who can help sort out myths and facts about food choices?

Every state has agencies that provide free education about food, called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).  These free programs help navigate community-specific food resources.  To find local SNAP-Ed agencies, visit https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/state-snap-ed-programs.  Trained nutrition experts can also help sort out nutrition needs.

For more information about local pantries participating in the Putnam County Pantry Coalition, consider “following” and “liking” the Putnam County Pantry Coalition Facebook page.

Reference: Purdue University Extension HHS-844-W

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Office hours are Monday thru Friday from 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm. Evening and lunch appointments are available, upon request. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time. Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

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