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Community Minute

September 6, 2011


25 Percent Of Hoosier Children At Risk Of Hunger

food truck

Photo: Hoosier Hills Food Bank

Hoosier Hills Food Bank runs a prepared food rescue program to distribute fresh meals to area families.

The hunger-relief charity Feeding America has released numbers indicating one in four children in Indiana are “at risk of hunger,” according to a press release sent by Julio Alonso of the Hoosier Hills Food Bank.

The Feeding America project is called “Map the Meal Gap,” and includes an interactive map that is shaded to depict hunger in the United States. The more hungry residents a state has, the darker it is shaded. Two maps depict overall and child hunger; the map of child hunger is noticeably darker.

In Indiana, for example, 16 percent of adults are at risk of hunger, while “the food insecurity rate for children is 25.1 percent,” according to the release.

Being at risk of hunger means that the head of household does not have the resources to ensure all members of the household, or family, are getting enough calories every day.  Many families experiencing this lack of food security use the services of places such as Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, which the Hoosier Hills Food Bank supplies with food.

August 17, 2011


Nonprofit Employment And Wages Increased In Recent Years

headshot of a woman with gray hair

Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University

Kirsten Grønbjerg is a professor at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She led the research team responsible for the report, which was released jointly by SPEA, the Center on Philanthropy, and the Indiana Business Research Center.

New data from the Indiana Nonprofit Report reveals that between 2005 and 2009, employment rates and wages for Indiana nonprofits increased, despite declines in other sectors of the economy during that time.

According to the report, between 2005 and 2009, nonprofit employment grew by 5.9 percent, while during that same period for-profit employment fell 8.6 percent.  Nonprofit growth was concentrated in the areas of health and education (but that doesn’t include public school teachers, who are considered government employees).

But for nonprofits in the areas of “arts, culture and recreation, social assistance, and membership associations” employment actually decreased.

While this report paints a rosy picture, the data is from 2009, and the recent debt ceiling deal has caused some in the nonprofit world to worry about the mandated cuts in “discretionary spending.”

The mandated cuts would exclude both Medicare and Medicaid. But if the congressional Super Committee fails to agree on budget cuts this fall, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts would be triggered. These cuts also exempt “most mandatory programs such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, TANF [Temporary Assistance for Need Families, commonly referred to as welfare], and food stamps,” according to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly.

But the $1.2 trillion in cuts have to come from somewhere. A Stateline article says that “everything from education funding to money for affordable housing to early childhood programs such as Head Start would be subject to the cuts at the trigger stage.”

July 14, 2011


California’s All-Volunteer Library

San Jose Public Library sign

Photo: San Jose Library (Flickr)

Four San Jose library branches remain closed while the city struggles with a budget deficit.

San Jose’s Friends of the Library organization is definitely living up to its name. Instead of letting the new Seven Trees Library branch sit empty while the city deals with a massive budget deficit, volunteers from the Seven Trees Friends group have set up a mini-library in its place.

The New York Times reports that instead of selling the books donated to the Friends organization, they are lending them out, often to patrons who come to the new branch expecting it to be open.

The Seven Trees library has no employees, and neither do three other branches which were recently completed. They had been financed through bonds in 2000 during the dot com boom, but now that the city is in debt the branches cannot open.

San Jose’s mayor has promised that the libraries will be open by the time he leaves office, in 2014. But that’s a long time to wait for a new library. Especially when they include technology-rich community centers like the one at the Seven Trees library, begging the question of whether the technology will be out-moded by the time the library can open.

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