NAPPANEE – An online forum this Thursday will address an issue facing many residents of Elkhart County.
ACT Nappanee-Wakarusa announces its exploration of this community issue as the subject of its Zoom on the Public Service meeting open to all on Thursday May 13th. Speakers at the meeting will include Mark Mikel and Todd Zeltwanger.
Mikel, Executive Director of THE CENTER, based in Nappanee, will discuss how the Family Christian Development Center (FCDC) has become the focal point for access to food for families in need in the Wa-Nee school district. , according to a press release.
In 2020, the Center served 6,727 people from 2,189 households. 118,114 groceries were distributed and over 3,700 backpacks with meals were provided to school children on weekends.
Mikel, a resident of Wakarusa, has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Center since 2014.
Today, twelve percent (12%) of residents of Elkhart County are considered food insecure; that’s 23,510 people who do not have reliable access to nutritious and affordable food. One in eight of our neighbors lives with hunger as a constant companion every day, the statement said.
“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 statement. “Whatever the cause, we have a social and human obligation to do what we can to coordinate community and government resources to meet the nutritional needs of our neighbors.”
Zeltwanger, Fund Development Director for CULTIVATE FOOD RESCUE, will discuss how this nonprofit saves excess food and turns it into healthy and nutritious meals for food insecure children in elementary school systems premises, according to the press release.
“Each week, CULTIVATE provides six meals in backpacks to meet the nutritional needs of food insecure children on weekends,” the statement said. “Currently, they are providing 800 students, providing a total of 4,800 meals per week, using the 100,000 pounds of food saved each month.
Zeltwanger, a resident of Bremen, joined CULTIVATE in 2019 to bring his development and fundraising expertise 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 old in high school and involved in 4-H animal projects. Noah Zimmer, now a 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, which donates unsold food to the CENTER, will discuss how the local restaurant industry can get involved to help alleviate the problem of food insecurity.
This free ZOOM meeting is open to everyone. For connection information, contact [email protected] At this email address, participants can also submit questions to which speakers will respond at the end of the presentations.