GARY | The more than 5 million pounds of food distributed by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana in 2013 is proportionate to previous years, but it doesn't come close to solving local hunger issues, according to the organization.
The amount of food, which is the equivalent of about 4.2 million meals, was provided to about 100 food pantries, soup kitchens and after-school programs in Lake and Porter counties, the food bank reported.
"In order to really make a difference in the fight against hunger here in Lake and Porter counties, we would have to distribute over 17 million meals a year," Arleen Peterson, the food bank's executive director, said in a news release.
Possible cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits would increase the number of people visiting the food bank and its member agencies, according to the organization.
"That’s why we really need the continued support of the community to help us get even more food out to those in need this year," Peterson said.
Megan Sikes, the food bank's communication/advocacy manager, said there was a slight decrease in donations to the food bank in 2013.
"Not a huge difference," Sikes said.
There are a variety of options to assist the food bank.
The organization's Souper Bowl food drive runs through Feb. 14. The food bank hopes to collect at least 10,000 cans of low-sodium soup during the program.
The organization is participating in NWIgives on Feb. 12. The program is a one-day fundraising event in which residents can support local charitable organizations.
Sikes said residents also can host their own food drives or contribute food or financial assistance at the food bank's facility, 2248 W. 35th Ave. in Gary.
Visit www.foodbanknwi.org or call (219) 980-1777 for information about the food bank and ways to help.