Serving the Hungry - Winter 2015 Newsletter

ALICE Report Finds Nearly 1 Million Households Unable to Afford the Basics

FamilyThe ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed; Study of Financial Hardship places a spotlight on hardworking residents who have little or no savings, and are one emergency from falling into poverty. The ALICE Report, recently released by the Indiana Association of United Ways, is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in the state to date, using the latest data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census, Internal Revenue Service and Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The ALICE Report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses, which quantify the number of working people struggling financially in Indiana, and why.

A total of 570,000 Hoosier households fall into what United Way calls the ALICE population. These are households earning more than the official U.S. poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living. Combined, ALICE and poverty households, account for 27% of households in the state of Indiana. This number is more than double the official poverty rate.

These results are confirmed by data acquired through Feeding America. According to “Feeding America Hunger in America 2010,” 73% of all client households, which participate in emergency food programs, live at or below the federal poverty level. The remaining 27% live above the poverty level, but still do not have enough money to provide sufficient nutritious food for their families. In fact, 34% of all client households have one or more working adults.

“ALICE is our childcare worker, our retail clerk, the CNA who cares for our grandparents and our delivery driver,” says Kathy Ertel, Board Chair of Indiana Association of United Ways. “When we know who ALICE is, we can think more clearly about the kind of help and support that will make a difference in his or her life.”

ALICE is often forced to make choices that compromise health and safety in order to make ends meet, putting both ALICE and the wider community at risk of longterm societal and economic repercussions.


  • The household survival budget quantifies the cost of housing, childcare, food, health care and transportation in each county. It is a bare-minimum budget. Every line item has been the most conservative estimate based on the cost of living in each county.
  • The miscellaneous category, 10% of all costs, covers overflow from basic needs; it is not enough to provide for clothes, cell phone, cable, or automotive or appliance repairs. There is no room in the budget for financial indulgences that many families enjoy.
  • This budget does not allow for any savings, leaving an ALICE family more vulnerable to any unexpected expense, such as a costly car repair or health issue.
  • The survival budget for a single adult in Vigo County is $16,175 annually. The survival budget for a family of four in Vigo County is $45,430 annually. The survival budget is significantly higher than the 2012 U.S. poverty designation of $23,050 for a family and $11,170 for a single adult.


  • More than 1 in 3 Hoosier households cannot afford the basics of housing, food, health care, childcare and transportation, despite working hard.
  • In Indiana, 37% of households live below the ALICE threshold – about 14% live below the poverty level and another 23% are above poverty but below the basic cost of living. In Vigo County, about 41% of households live below the ALICE threshold – about 24% are above poverty but below the cost of living and about 17% live below the poverty level.
  • There are over 570,000 ALICE households in Indiana, more than double the official poverty rate. Together, with those in poverty, there are nearly 923,000 households unable to make ends meet in Indiana1. In Vigo County there are 9,753 households that have incomes above poverty but below the ALICE threshold, and another 6,891 households that are below the poverty level.

The population in Indiana is about 6.5 million which consists of about 2.8 million Hoosier households. US Census Bureau, 2013.

For more information visit or contact Troy Fears at United Way of the Wabash Valley.

A Word from the Agency Director

Dear Friends,

Food is a basic need. And we don’t think anyone should ever go hungry. But more importantly, we also want to make sure that those who are struggling to put food on the table in our community have access to the right opportunities, relationships, resources and networks to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Our network of food pantries, soup kitchens and feeding sites for children make us the largest food distributor to families in need in west central Indiana. We work to end hunger and provide the resources to allow individuals and families break out of poverty. With our 95 partner agencies, we provide approximately 2.5 million meals a year and connect more than 32,000 community members to supportive services that can help them find sustainable independence. These things don’t make us unique. What does, is the fact that our 95 partners represent more than 24 different faith-based groups in more than 30 different communities, making this a true ecumenical effort.

Most of us might be familiar with the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, which has the significant task of managing the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Through TEFAP, our federal government procures and distributes millions of tons of food every year through agencies such as ours; food items that range from shelf-stable milk to pasta to canned meats, vegetables, fruits and juices. In past years this program has provided the Foodbank with more than 750,000 pounds in a single year. What our parents might remember as blocks of cheese and butter has expanded in size and scope to include a vast and diverse set of offerings to Americans who are struggling.

At some point, most of us will struggle in one or more areas of our life. Even though we have a strong support network of family and friends, we aren’t likely exempt from the trials life can throw at us. The Foodbank has a singular purpose in our community: to feed hungry people regardless of religious or political affiliation, race, creed or color. If you are hungry we want to help—it’s really that simple.

God bless you,

John C. Etling

Walmart Food Pantry Holiday Makeover

Walmart Food Pantry Holiday Makeover logoThe St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry has much to be grateful for these days. Located in Brazil, Indiana, the pantry makes its services available to anyone who comes knocking on their door.

Recently the pantry participated in the Walmart Food Pantry Holiday Makeover Campaign in an effort to strengthen programs that provide hunger relief in their communities. Nearly 170 food pantries from across the country participated in this grant opportunity, with the top 75 vote-getters being awarded $20,000 to be used towards capital improvements at their respective pantry locations.

ChildSeveral people, including Natalie Shonk, were watching the results through the midnight deadline on Friday, December 12. “The final hours were a bit stressful,” said Shonk. “We were texting each otherdoing everything we could think of to stay on the leader page. We really had our doubts.”

“The last couple of days in the competition we were falling in the rankings. A lot of people reached out to their friends and family members to go online and vote,” said Shonk.

The group also found help from a likely source by enlisting their pastor, Fr. John Hollowell, for getting the word out in cyberspace. That seemed to make all the difference for securing a strong vote total and winning one of the grants.

Shonk was more reflective on the larger community, “What’s important for everyone to understand is that this is really going to allow Annunciation Parish and the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry the ability to serve more people, and for that we are very grateful.”

“Over the past two weeks, communities nationwide came together to vote at for their local food pantry to win a grant,” stated a company press release. “The grants are being made to help the winning food pantries (such as the Annunciation St. Vincent dePaul Food Pantry) renovate their facilities and purchase essential equipment such as new refrigerators, ovens, stoves, storage units, and even refrigerated trucks to help them better serve families in need.”

Foodbank Capital Campaign Receives Matching Challenge Grant

PeopleA few years ago the search began to find a facility that would more than triple the capacity for the Foodbank. The financial and operational performance of our present Foodbank is impressive. Currently the Foodbank provides 2.4 million meals annually from a 9,000 square foot facility – that does not have a truck loading dock – on a budget of $590,000. This equates to less than $0.25 per meal.

At the time the search for a new facility began a campaign to raise the money needed to purchase and operate that facility also began. The ‘basic needs’ goal for the campaign is $1.5 million to cover the purchase and renovation of the building.

A larger facility, more responsibility, more challenges, and a higher operation cost drove the decision to establish a ‘visionary goal’ to raise an additional $1,000,000 for an endowment to help provide support for the daily operations of the new Foodbank.

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation is providing a Challenge Grant specifically for the Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank capital campaign. This grant will provide funding for an endowment to help offset increased operational costs associated with the new expanded distribution facility.

To assist Catholic Charities in building its permanent endowment, the Community Foundation has offered to match each $2 gift given to the Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank Endowment with $1 up to a total of $100,000. That means that gifts to the Foodbank Endowment will go 50% further to helping the Foodbank reach its goal. This match is good only for new donations made to the Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank Endowment through the Wabash Valley Community Foundation. This grant represents one of the largest gifts ever awarded by the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.

Please contact Jennifer Buell at (812)232-1447 for more information about how you can make your gift to the Foodbank campaign go further.

Photo caption: Jackie Lower, board member, Distribution Committee member and former Board President for the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, and Earl and Tina Elliott, campaign co-chairs of the Closing the Meal Gap Foodbank campaign announcing the Wabash Valley Community Foundation challenge grant.

A Birthday Story

FamilyFor some of us, birthdays are not always a happy occasion. The challenges of being another year older bring us more aches, pains, and gray hairs. If we are optimistic about celebrating another year, we might believe that as we grow older we become wiser, as though it is exclusive with an advanced age. But, sometimes, that wisdom comes in a much younger, cuter form as well. Like the 2-year-old boy named “Jackson.”

While unpacking from their recent move and preparing for Jackson’s third birthday, Jackson’s parents realized how many wonderful toys Jackson had received in just a few years. Jackson was blessed by the extraordinary generosity of friends and family. Although it was obvious that Jackson had more toys than he really needed, his parents asked, as any responsible parent might, what Jackson would like for his third birthday. How Jackson responded brought both tears and a sense of pride to his parents; Jackson wanted to “help the hungry people” in his community.

After further discussion, a plan was crafted that would include hosting a birthday party, with all of Jackson’s friends being asked to bring non-perishable food items instead of presents. As a family they decorated a box in birthday wrapping paper, and all the guests filled the box with their food gifts totaling 65 lbs. Jackson made it clear he wanted to come to the Foodbank with his parents to deliver the “gift.”

It was otherwise just another typical day at the Foodbank when Jackson arrived with his donation. There were smiles all around as the food was put on the scale and weighed. We all realized Jackson had discovered the gift that can only be found when you give. “I got this for my birthday to feed hungry girls and boys!” exclaimed Jackson with a smile. Yes Jackson, you sure did!

Photo caption: Jackson Murphy and his parents dropping off a donation of food received for Jackson’s 3rd birthday.

Need Help Finding Food?

If you need help finding food or know someone who does, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479). The Hunger Hotline is available Monday – Friday from 9am – 6pm. All calls are free and confidential. Help someone you know receive the nutrition they need to remain healthy and productive.

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