Pryor offers budget amendment to increase funds for food banks

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) is calling for an increase of funds for food banks in the state budget. She proposed Amendment #4 in committee last Thursday, but it was defeated 8-16 along party lines. 

Since the start of the pandemic, food banks have been struggling to provide for the increased number of Hoosiers in need. The food industry normally donates their surplus to food banks, but they have been giving it to grocery stores due to consumer demand and have had a general lack of surplus. Without these donations, food banks have been buying the products.

Despite these unprecedented and unpreventable struggles, the governor continued the decade-long flat appropriation of only $300,000 to food banks. Republican legislators have offered no amendments to rectify the issue.

Pryor’s amendment proposed $500,000 in 2022 and $400,000 in 2023 to food banks.

“People turn to food banks when they’re in need, but who do food banks turn to when they’re in need? They turn to us, and we need to answer their call,” Pryor said. “This pandemic has unquestionably impacted Hoosiers on a foundational level, and food banks are an avenue to help many individuals at the same time.”

Instability and unemployment due to the pandemic have increased food insecurity by an estimated 40%. The meal distribution of Gleaners Food Bank, which serves 21 counties, increased by 107% this past year. Midwest Food Bank, which typically feeds about 90,000 people each month in a normal year, saw a 30% increase in food assistance. 

Across the state, food banks, community kitchens and food pantries have experienced a 154% increase in visits from Hoosiers needing access to food.

“For families in need, it’s always a tradeoff — pay the bills or put food on the table, new winter boots or school supplies, holiday gifts or holiday turkey,” Pryor said. “We have the power to make those decisions easier and lessen those burdens. We need to act now.”

Pryor serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.

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