NAPPANEE — An online forum this Thursday will address a issue facing many residents in Elkhart County.
ACT Nappanee-Wakarusa announces its exploration of this community issue as the topic of its Public Service Open-to-All Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 13. Speakers at the meeting will include Mark Mikel and Todd Zeltwanger.
Mikel, Executive Director of Nappanee-based THE CENTER, will discuss how FCDC (Family Christian Development Center) has become the focal point for food access by families in need in the Wa-Nee School District, according to a news release.
In 2020, The Center served 6727 individuals from 2189 households. 118,114 grocery items were given out, and more than 3,700 backpacks with meals were provided to tide schoolchildren through weekends.
Mikel, a resident of Wakarusa, has overseen daily operations at The Center since 2014.
Today, twelve percent (12%) of residents in Elkhart County are considered to be Food Insecure; that’s 23,510 individuals who don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. One in eight of our neighbors lives every day with hunger as a constant companion, according to the release.
“There are many causes of food insecurity, including unemployment, low wages, unstable or unaffordable housing, rising medical costs, and lack of reliable transportation,” Mikel said in the release. “Regardless of the causes, we have a social and humane obligation to do what we can to coordinate community and government resources to meet the nutritional needs of our neighbors.”
Zeltwanger, Director of Fund Development for CULTIVATE FOOD RESCUE, will discuss how this non-profit rescues excess food and repurposes it into healthy, nutritious meals for food insecure children in local elementary school systems, according to the release.
“Each week CULTIVATE delivers six meals in backpacks in order to meet the weekend nutrition needs of food insecure children,” the release said. “Currently, they provision 800 students, providing a total of 4800 meals a week, using the 100,000 pounds of food rescued monthly.
Zeltwanger, a resident of Bremen, joined CULTIVATE in 2019 to bring his expertise in development and fundraising to the organization.
CULTIVATE benefits from the efforts of MEAT HUNGER, which was started in St Joseph County in 2017 by twins Noah and Emily Zimmer when they were seniors in high school and involved in 4-H animal projects. Noah Zimmer, now at junior at Indiana University, will discuss how this program works. In 2020, they provided 86,000 servings of protein from 21,500 pounds of donated meat.
Charles Lanham, owner of Panther Pizza in Nappanee, who donates unsold food to THE CENTER, will discuss how the local foodservice industry can get involved in helping to alleviate food insecurity problem.
This free ZOOM meeting is open to everyone. To obtain the sign-in information, contact [email protected]. At this email address, participants can also submit questions for the speakers to answer at the end of the presentations.