INDIANAPOLIS – These days, more Americans need little bit of help, when it comes to putting food on the table than ever before. Numbers from the USDA show just that.
Around 17 million Americans struggle with food insecurity meaning they can't access or afford healthy food. One person who is struggling to put food on table right now is Theresa Hercamp.
"I am off work on short term and my pay is very bad and just in need of a little bit of a help,” Hercamp and Indianapolis resident said as she was going through the line at Gleaners Food Bank.
According to the USDA's recent food insecurity report. The number of people living with food insecurity increased by 31% when compared to 2021. For children that rose 44 percent.
Gleaners Food Bank says it expects these numbers to be even higher this year.
"Support for people in need has gone down,” Fred Glass the CEO Gleaners Food Bank said. “The pandemic era support for people through the child tax credit, expanded school lunch and so forth has gone away. The supply from USDA of surplus protein has gone away and unfortunately I think those numbers are going to get worse next time because those were for 2022 and around the country a lot of that support was still in place."
So it begs the question, what can be done? For those facing food insecurity like Hercamp she has suggestions.
"I think they need to increase minimum wage and provide more jobs to everyone no matter race, color, whatever,” Hercamp said. “I just think wages need to be increased more place."
Gleaners says the people they serve that can work do work, especially those with families. They say that their clients tell them their wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living. That’s why they say the federal government needs to act.
"For every meal we provide folks the federal government provides 9,” Glass said. “So, the federal government is really the driver of helping people not be food insecure and during the pandemic they really stepped up and now not so much. So, we are hopeful that maybe policy makers can expand SNAP and WIC. Those have been shown to be highly effective ways to help people eat.”
Gleaners says they are preparing for the holidays. While they don't have a shortage, they say demand is up, but donations have not kept pace. Gleaners says they are having to purchase more of the food they are giving away.