The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is able to assist people with more than just hunger insecurity. Working or volunteering there can lead to the learning of valuable skills that individuals can use throughout their career.
The Indiana Manpower and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT) program, which is a component of Indiana’s Welfare-to-Work program, was created to help people who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. It was created in 1992 as part of the Family Support Act of 1988. IMPACT gave individuals the opportunity to become independent of welfare programs. The IMPACT program works with designated training facilities to help individuals achieve self-sufficiency though searching for jobs, job readiness activities and training, and educational classes.
Currently, there are only 50 IMPACT training facilities in the entire state, and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is one of them. This makes the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana special as it not only provides hunger relief to the region, but it also lends a hand up to those who need assistance in becoming self-sufficient.
“We’re more than just a food distribution facility. We totally believe in supplemental programs,” Arleen Peterson, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana said. “There are able-bodied people who haven’t been able to find work, some who are older, have disabilities or medical issues, and they can’t get work. A sweeping generalization is made about these people instead of working with each case individually.”
The mission of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana has a natural connection with the IMPACT program. The nonprofit’s goal is to alleviate hunger but not just giving food to individuals who need it, but also to teach valuable skills to those individuals so that they may become self-sufficient. Ultimately, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana doesn’t want to shorten the lines at the local food pantries, they want to eliminate them completely. Addressing the root causes of food insecurities is paramount to creating the desired effect, which is the eradication of hunger. May people utilize the aid provided by the IMPACT program each year. At the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, individuals learn about about food safety, inventory, fundraising efforts and development, and more.
“This is a great opportunity because we depend about 80% on volunteers. It’s a great boost for us because we have consistent support from individuals who come here regularly through the IMPACT program,” Peterson said.
One individual who recently went through the IMPACT program, Tyrone Mitchell, went on to obtain employment with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.
“While I was in the IMPACT program one of the employees mentioned that there was an opening,” Mitchell said. “I felt the need to earn what I got so I applied for it and they hired me. So far it’s been great. I am learning a lot and everyone here is really nice and easy to work with.”
Mitchell works in receiving for the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana now. He helps to log food that is donated, organize the donations, and he helps to get food ready for agencies when they come to pick up their orders.