By Nancy Price
When Linda Adams, a Southside community wellness coordinator for Purdue Extension – Marion County, learned that due to COVID-19, she would have to work from home immediately and indefinitely, she cleaned out her cubicle at work and went straight to the grocery store to stock up on needed supplies.
“Having been a Kroger co-manager earlier in my career, I had seen snow scares before, but it was immediately obvious to me that this was very different,” Adams said. “These stores would soon be out of food. All while I was waiting in line to check out my groceries that day, I knew there would be a direct impact on the food pantries.”
“In March there was such a panic among the people,” added Bill Boone, founding director and CEO of Servant’s Heart of Indy, a Beech Grove pantry. “They didn’t know how to react to being told to stay in. Many were hoarding food because they thought they wouldn’t be able to get out.”
A PERFECT PROTEIN
Adams is part of the Nutrition Education Program funded through federal SNAP-Ed. She works to remove barriers that make it difficult for people with limited resources to access proper nutrition.
“When the shut-down orders were announced, the local food pantries mostly all switched to drive-through distribution with limited paperwork for clients,” she said. “The number of clients food pantries were seeing went up immediately; likely due to job loss and due to the grocery stores being out of food. But through it all, we consistently had a supply of eggs due to this distribution networked provided for HATCH for Hunger.”
HATCH for Huger, a nonprofit organization, was created in Indianapolis in 2015 to provide high-quality protein to people facing food insecurity. The organization is a partnership between Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly & Co., food stores and farmers to provide eggs to undernourished people. HATCH works with Rose Acre Farms, based in Seymour, Ind. and MPS Egg Farms in North Manchester, Ind.
THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE EGG
“Currently HATCH is responsible for about 80,000 dozen eggs per month making their way into food banks and food pantries serving Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Arizona,” said Randy Reichmann, CEO for HATCH for Hunger. “Over 2,500 food pantries have access to eggs thanks to HATCH. Most food banks are dependent on food donations and can’t always supply protein to the hungry. HATCH was created to be a dependable source of protein in markets we serve.”
“Getting adequate protein is critical to living a healthy life,” Reichmann continued. “Protein is important for healthy physical and mental development and eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein. We know kids that are hungry aren’t as healthy physically and experience slower cognitive development. Eggs are simply a great way to get needed protein into the bodies of those who need it most.”
Last year, Adams attended a food pantry summit hosted by the Indy Hunger Network (IHN) for Indianapolis-based food pantries. “As part of that one-day conference, they had breakout sessions that divided all the food pantry leaders by Indianapolis townships so they could meet and begin collaborating,” she said. “The Southside group was definitely interested in working together when they could. The Indy Hunger Network began hosting quarterly Perry/Franklin Township food pantry meetings. We hosted HATCH for Hunger at one of those meetings to discuss what was needed to be able to establish an egg delivery spot in our area. Our food pantries had limited refrigeration space, so it would be hard for any one pantry to hold a skid of eggs. I offered to recruit additional food pantries into our group and offered to be the order captain to get everything started.”
DOUBLE OR NOTHING
In April last year, representatives of Southside pantries gathered at Servant’s Heart of Indy, a Beech Grove pantry. The deliveries continued monthly with about 600 dozen eggs. By July, HATCH was delivering to Servant’s Heart twice a month. “That was the secret to our success,” Adams said. “Our monthly orders jumped up to an average of 1,100 dozen eggs; nearly doubling our orders. The twice a month delivery have made managing the refrigeration space so much easier.”
Each participating food pantry is now able to give each family a dozen eggs, according to Adams. “Food pantries that never had eggs available before now have them available all the time,” she said. “Food pantries that were buying eggs off the shelf at the local grocery stories do not have to do that anymore. So, this saves time, money and volunteer resources. One of our food pantries mentioned that as their stock of food diminished during COVID, they began giving each food pantry client family two dozen eggs. That is exactly why we do this and why this HATCH for Hunger egg distribution system is so important.”
For more information on HATCH for Hunger, go to hatchforhunger.com. Southside pantries interested in egg deliveries may contact Linda Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.