Area food banks poised to lose nearly half of commodities

From the article, “”We have billions to spend in Afghanistan or Swiss bank accounts but we can’t feed our own poor. Something is wrong with this society.”” We couldn’t have said it better. There have to be some moral limits on how far budget cuts will go. The bottom has been squeezed until there’s not much left. Thank God for good people and churches like these across the country willing to put themselves out to help.

Original article here. SOUTH BEND – More than 80 agencies of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana are bracing for heavy uts in October after a reduced FY2012 Agricultural Appropriations bill was passed by the House in June.

Washington’s $3 billion cut in funds from FY2011 has trickled over to The Emergency Food Assistance Program used by 16 Elkhart County pantries, which are poised to see nearly 40 percent of their food supplies wiped out.

The bill includes cuts to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

The Food Bank of Northern Indiana had a brainstorming meeting with representatives from its 185 agencies Monday afternoon to discuss how cuts would affect agency operations and to offer possible responses.

Jaime Owen, agency relations manager of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, moderated the meeting and opened with a telling statistic: More than 2.1 million pounds of food came to the food bank from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2010, which amounted to 38 percent of the organization’s total food for the year.

USDA contributions for the first quarter of 2011 exceed 45 percent of the food bank’s totals.

Several representatives from the 83 agencies facing cuts expressed their frustration and determination to continue feeding clients.

“Hunger is child abuse waiting to happen. Hunger is crime waiting to happen,” said Terri Brandt of Common Ground Food Pantry in Plymouth, her voice wavering with emotion. “There isn’t much I wouldn’t do to take care of my kids.”

Jim Pierchorowski of St. John Evangelical Episcopal Church in Elkhart spoke passionately about how the food assistance allowed his church’s pantry to spend its funds elsewhere, most notably on its Backpacks for Children program.

Pierchorowski said the pantry planned on expanding the program, but the cuts will force it to make a difficult decision.”Are we going to feed old people or feed the children? Who is more valuable to society?” he asked. “We have billions to spend in Afghanistan or Swiss bank accounts but we can’t feed our own poor. Something is wrong with this society.”

Representatives from U.S. Reps. Joe Donnelly and Marlin Stutzman attended to relay comments back to the congressmen. One man from a South Bend pantry gave both representatives a paper bag with two cans of corn.

“Go home and have these for a meal,” the man told them, saying that’s all pantries have to give their clients some days.

By the end of the meeting, Owen and other pantry representatives were offering ideas to prepare for the bill’s impact, such as shortening hours, giving less to clients, nearby pantries combining resources and changing ZIP code regulations to only accept local clients.

Though solutions were tossed around, Brenda Spence of the Bristol Community Food Pantry, which recently ran out of funds, hardly felt subdued.

“We’ve got this cloud over our head,” she said. “We don’t know if it’s going to rain or not. It might be a tornado.”

Kerry Czoch of Faith Mission reflected a similar sentiment. Closing Faith Mission for a few days isn’t an option, she said.

“We cannot choose to close down more days,” she said. “(Our clients) need to eat. If we have our funds cut by 50 percent, we’ll go out into the community and find more. We don’t have a choice.”

The bill, H.R. 2112, passed the House by a vote of 217 to 203 on June 16. It now moves to the Senate, where the representatives from the offices of Donnelly and Stutzman believe the bill will face more moderate cuts. For more information about the bill, visit

If passed, the 16 Elkhart County agencies affected are Christ’s Commissary, Church Community Services, Church Without Walls Inc., Elkhart SDA Hispanic Church, Faith Mission, Family Services of Elkhart County, Mustard Seed Food Pantry, Northern Indiana Teen Challenge, Open Gate Praise and Deliverance Food Pantry, Salvation Army, St. John Evangelical Episcopal Church and Susannah’s Kitchen, all of Elkhart, First United Food Pantry and The Window, both of Goshen, Family Christian Development Center of Nappanee and First Brethren New Paris.