EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Since the pandemic started, a longtime problem has become more serious. People having trouble getting food because of a variety of reasons including money and access. It’s called food insecurity. Evansville City Council passed an ordinance proposed by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke to establish a commission that would address this issue head-on.
Since last March, many more Evansville residents started facing problems getting food. Something often taken for granted. The percentage of those affected in Evansville increased from 14 to 20%. City leaders approved a new commission that will bring local food organizations together to get answers.
“I am excited, there are so many families whether covid existed or not who are struggling to get food and there hasn’t been a system-wide addressing of it,” said City Councilman Alex Burton.
Burton has been passionate about this committee forming saying the community is in need of assistance, and fast. Winnecke set out to form a committee to address food insecurity. While it is an existing struggle with many residents, some are experiencing it for the first time.
“Many of these individuals and families have never visited a food bank or have no idea where to get a meal on the weekends. It really just highlighted a need to get more proactive in terms of,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Schaeffer. “To make sure that this organization knows what the food bank is going, the food bank knows what daughters of charity is doing, just a need for more communication.”
The commission would coordinate services, funding and programs related to food security. It would be comprised of 25 members from food-related organizations who would make recommendations to city government and other community stakeholders.
“We can’t tell people what to do but we can put all the research together, make recommendations have all the voices together to put forth a more collaborative effort,” said Lisa Vaughan, chair of Feed Evansville.
They say they hope to include people who have expertise in these different sectors. Like the food industry or those who volunteer at a food pantry.
“We’re also making sure we have people who are experiencing food insecurity often we have committees that come together and it’s people who do programming and do the reseach but it’s also important to have people who have experienced food insecurity to tell us what the barriers truly are,” said Vaughan.
During Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order and school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, local organizations reported 8,000 meals requested in a single day.
Burton said they hope to assemble the committee of about 25 members as soon as possible.
“This is something pressing this is something that doesn’t need to be politicized. It has to be addressed for the city of Evansville,” he said.
Officials say the budget for staff would be up to the commission.
(This story was originally published on January 25, 2021)