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Indiana's Efforts to Combat Food Insecurity
Indiana Ag Connection - 11/15/2023

Indiana is stepping up its fight against food insecurity, an issue affecting nearly 700,000 residents, including many children. The state's Land Use Task Force recently spent three hours examining a series of recommendations to address this pressing issue in the upcoming legislative session.

The spotlight of these discussions was on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). State Representative Renee Pack emphasized the need for educating Hoosiers about their eligibility for food assistance, as 25 percent of SNAP-eligible families are not utilizing the program. This lack of awareness represents a significant barrier to food access.

A key issue identified is the SNAP program's "asset test." Emily Weikert Bryant, Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, pointed out that the current regulation disqualifies families with more than $5,000 in their bank accounts. She advocates for replacing this test with a net income assessment, which would widen eligibility and provide more access to food for those in need.

The stigma surrounding SNAP benefits was highlighted by agriculture economist Dr. Shellye Suttles as another hurdle. She advocates for stronger support for outreach programs like SNAP-Ed to address this issue and encourage wider participation. Suttles warns that failing to support eligible households could have long-term public health and economic repercussions for Indiana.

In response to these challenges, the committee has proposed several measures. These include simplifying the process for retailers to become SNAP-eligible and funding transportation and delivery services for SNAP recipients. The goal is clear: to ensure that no Hoosier has to face food insecurity. With these initiatives, Indiana aims to set a precedent in effectively tackling hunger and supporting its residents in need.

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