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New data shows more kids going hungry in Indiana

2022 Indiana KIDS COUNT data book released
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 18:28:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) released their KIDS COUNT 2022 data book Tuesday. The 240 page book details many areas about where Indiana youth stand.

The main focus areas of the book are family and community, health, economic well-being and education.

Part of the book breaks down numbers of children in poverty. 3,355 homeless students were reported in Marion County. In 2020, around 1 in 10 Hoosiers (659,096) received SNAP benefits. That's an increase of about 100,000 people from 2019.

241,156 households received SNAP in 2020, and of those 127,668 had children younger than 18.

The breakdown of SNAP is only a small part of the data book. Another topic area focused is food insecurity.

"It's a huge, huge issue for our young people," said Jennifer Darby, the Chief Operating Officer for IYI.

The data shows more children in Indiana are going hungry and many aren't sure where their next meal is coming from.

Members of the community are trying to help children in many ways, starting with feeding them.

"We had an increase in the number of kids with child food insecurity," said Clint Kugler, the Vice President of Statewide Engagement and Advocacy for IYI.

The data shows 1 in 5 kids were food insecure in 2020 — meaning they weren't sure where or even when their next meal would come.

1 in 3 households with children reported their kids weren't eating enough because food was unfavorable.

"It's crushing, how can a child reach their full potential when they are struggling in this moment just to feed and have their next meal?" asked Kugler.

Kelvin Jarrett is a teacher and director of Skool Kidz Academy on the east side of Indianapolis. Part of his work is providing food for his students.

"It's very disturbing to hear that. That just makes this program much more important. We are serving kids; we are giving them a good healthy meal because we just don't know. We may be the only place that that child gets three good, solid meals a day," said Jarrett.

He helps prep meals to make sure none of his kids go home hungry.

"It's our responsibility as child care centers, as schools, and also as neighbors to make sure that everyone is getting the food they should be getting," he said.

Overall, Indiana ranks third-best among neighboring states: Illinois (21st), Michigan (28th), Indiana (29th), Ohio (31st), and Kentucky (37th).