Local Organization Helps Youth Who Face Food Insecurity
Photographer / Amy Payne
Many Noblesville residents have no idea that some area families are unable to provide enough food to feed their school-aged children. Even among the affluent of Hamilton County, there are those who struggle because of an unexpected lay-off, large bill or medical problems. The organization Fueled for School seeks to aid youth who face food insecurity by providing meal packs, which they can prepare and consume at home.
“A lot of people do not realize that many of our friends and neighbors right here in Hamilton County face food insecurity and hunger. It has been estimated that there are 27,760 food insecure individuals here in Hamilton County, 10,860 of which are children. It is likely you know someone who is concerned about running out of food or who knows they will have to choose between paying a bill or buying food,” says Audra Shock, Operations Director of Fueled For School.
Students who participate in the program are provided with a 2 ½ pound meal pack, which they take home for weekend consumption. The packs contain nutritious food that the child can prepare for themselves. Examples of some of the food included are oatmeal, chicken noodle soup, fruit, granola, peanut butter and pasta. The food comes from foodstuff and monetary donations and is stored at Ivy Tech in Noblesville. During the week, volunteers assemble the packs and deliver them to the schools.
“When we first offered weekend meal packs to Noblesville elementary students, we thought maybe 50 or 100 students would request a meal pack,” Shock says. “In reality, over 300 students in the Noblesville elementary schools requested food for the weekends!
“The food in the meal packs comes from generous donations from the community. There were two food drives at Noblesville elementary schools during the 2018-19 school year. We have had donations from scout troops, individuals, and businesses. Noblesville Elks did a “Fueled For School Challenge” at Bowl 32 earlier this year and local businesses provided silent auction items. Kiln Creations did a spring break fundraiser and Noblesville Meijer matched $500 of that fundraiser! Amerifence generously donates money each month to buy food. Fueled For School has sold t-shirts and used those profits to buy food,” Shock says.
In November 2017, some of the teachers from Hinkle Creek Elementary School decided to volunteer as a group at a local food bank. While they were there, they noticed that weekend meal packs were being assembled for students attending Carmel Clay Schools. Kristina Trusty, who is now the president of Fueled For School, inquired if there was a weekend meal pack program for Noblesville School students.
She discovered there was a weekend meal pack program for every other school system in Hamilton County, except Noblesville. As a kindergarten teacher, she knew first hand that some of her students did not have enough to eat while they were home over the weekend. Trusty organized successful food drives in each of the Noblesville elementary schools. By early February 2018, Fueled For School was founded and was able to start sending home weekend meal packs.
With the help of community support, Fueled For School plans to start providing weekend meal packs to Noblesville Middle School students during the 2019-20 school year. Helpers are always needed to shop for, organize, assemble and deliver the meal packs. Volunteer opportunities are posted on the organization’s website. There is always a need for funding and food donations. A gift of $20 can feed a student on the weekends for an entire month.
“We truly appreciate our partners. Noblesville schools assist in identifying the students who participate and assist with food drives and distribution at the schools. Ivy Tech Noblesville provides us the space to store our food and assemble the meal packs. Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank provides monthly donations of food. Amerifence provides financial and community support,” Shock says. “It has been truly amazing and inspiring to see the Noblesville community generously offer their time, effort, and donations, which has made it possible to feed 300 Noblesville students each weekend!”
To make a monetary donation, visit FueledForSchool.org or mail to P.O. Box 373 Noblesville, IN 46061.