Freezers at local community centers to provide free frozen meals
SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- South Bend city leaders are working to eliminate food insecurity by placing community freezers at local community centers specifically in low-income neighborhoods, available for anyone to pick up free nutritious meals.
“It’s hard, now with the prices of food and gas too so high, you do have to decide what you want to spend your money,” said Janice Hopkins, a senior citizen who lives of the westside of South Bend.
Hopkins was among a dozen local seniors who received the first round of free frozen meals from the new community freezer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center on Linden Ave on the westside of South Bend.
“We’re starting here with the Martin Luther King Center and supporting the families, the children that are in this area with good quality healthy foods for as long as we can,” said Henry Davis Jr., Second District Representative on the South Bend Common Council.
Common Council members Davis Jr. and Lori Hamann partnered with Venue’s Parks & Arts and Cultivate Food Rescue to launch the new community freezers as another step to eliminate South Bend food deserts, known as places with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.
“This is just another piece to a very large puzzle of trying to address food insecurity and food deserts that exist in our city,” explained Lori Hamman with the Common Council.
Freezers will be placed at three community centers and can hold up to 270 meals that are put in individual bags containing six free pre-packaged nutritious meals each.
“They’re frozen, they each include a starch, protein, and a vegetable. They’re microwaveable so they’re easy to make,” said Jim Conklin the Co-Founder & Executive Director of Cultivate Food Rescue. “This will be either food that we prepare in our kitchen, or we rescue prepared food from places like the University of Notre Dame. The food has never been served it’s just been over-prepared.”
According to Census Data, the neighborhood surrounding the MLK Center has a large minority population, with poverty rates around 40% and an average median income under $20K.
With minorities twice as likely to face food insecurities, officials said it’s important to provide these resources near them.
“One of the keys in solving the problem of food insecurity is getting food close to the people where they live,” explained Conklin.
“People have access to that very primal need. For children, elderly, these are those in our community that are experiencing the most hardship,” added Hamann.
Over the next few weeks two more freezers are set to be placed at the Charles Black Center at 3419 West Washington St. and the O'Brien Center at 321 East Walter St.
Frozen meals will be available anytime the centers are open.
To help donate food to Cultivate you can click here.
To help donate money to cover freezer costs contact Henry Davis Jr at 574-235-5567, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lori Hamann at 574-235-5979, email@example.com.