Monday, November 27, 2017

Launching the Food and Farms Coalition

At the Hub, we know that our entire community is affected by the food industry; as workers, as eaters, as food stamp recipients-- that's why we can't ignore the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill. As a result, this year we are launching the Food and Farms Coalition (FFC) to build power!  The FFC includes the Hub's Advocacy Working Group and Hoosier Action, working together with small farmers, SNAP recipients and those concerned about the food system.

Hoosier Action launched in April 2017 to build the political power of Indiana's working families through robust community organizing. They take on campaigns around economic and social issues that impact everyday people across the region.

The Hub's Advocacy Working Group aims to address the issues of poverty and injustice that lead to food insecurity. Our core issues are food security, affordable healthcare, and affordable housing. The Food and Farms Coalition will launch our first Farm Bill campaign.

The Farm Bill is a congressional bill that re-authorizes every 5 years or so, and it dictates how much funding will go to food and agriculture programs in the U.S. Our current Farm Bill is going to be expiring on September 30, 2018, so there are some changes that may occur. We want to provide as much information as we possibly can on this year's Bill so that everyone can benefit from it, working together to ensure the Bill is fair to agriculture workers and buyers and all those affected by food insecurity.

Our Indiana Senator, Joe Donnelly, sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which works directly on the Senate's version of the Farm Bill.  As his constituents we need to let him know what we think, and how he can best represent us.

Let's work together to stay informed, raise our voices and work toward a strong, healthy Farm Bill.  The Food and Farm Coalition will meet monthly, please join us tomorrow, Tuesday, November 28th at the Hub from 6pm-8pm to get started!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cuts to Food Stamps

“SNAP has helped me out several times in my life. In college, it's how I ate. Now, I use it to help me buy food since I live paycheck to paycheck.” -SNAP recipient, Hub patron

In March, President Trump proposed $193 billions dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. These massive cuts would be a drastic blow to one of the most effective hunger and poverty prevention programs in the United States. A program that has:
  • Lifted millions of households out of poverty: SNAP kept 10.3 million people out of poverty in 2012, including 4.9 million children.
  • Helped families put nutritious food on the table.
  • Promoted long-term health and well-being, especially for children.
  • Provided a valuable safety-net, both during economic downturn and natural disasters.
In Indiana:
  • It kept 224,000 Hoosiers out of poverty, including 111,000 children, per year between 2009 and 2012

How will these cuts affect Hoosiers in Monroe County?

In Monroe County, over 25,000 community members experience food insecurity - the second highest rate of food insecurity in the state of Indiana. Of those families and individuals, nearly 8,000 receive SNAP benefits, and it serves as a valuable resource for putting food on the table.

If these funding cuts go into effect, thousands of Hoosiers will no longer be able to afford a healthy diet. Nearly 75% of SNAP benefits go to households with children or have someone with a disability. While we would hope these would be the last groups to be affected by any changes, there is no guarantee when such a large sum of money is involved. If federal funds are cut, we will be unable to count on the state of Indiana to fill the gap with a tight state budget.

If SNAP benefits got cut...“[i]t would make it harder to pay the bills on time. Either a bill wouldn't be paid or I would sacrifice food for bills. I make less than what I owe. I am very fortunate to have found resources for food from my friends, from growing my own food, and from organizations like the Hub, but many people in a worse situation really struggle. They will get very low quality food if enough food at all.”


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Building Social Inclusion at the Hub!

Submitted by Advocacy Intern Meagan Wilson. 

Last night, the Hub got together with BTCC Bloomington to discuss social inclusion in the Bloomington community!

Our ideas about the current reality of social
inclusion in Bloomington
Gaging the amount of progress made on social issues
in Bloomington

Social inclusion is a topic of vital importance here at the Hub. Promoting social inclusion is one of our foundational beliefs, and we want to foster it in the community as much as we can. Bloomington still has a long way to go in terms of racial, gender and income equality, but it isn't too late to start making progress.

We understand how much social inclusion can impact our patrons and friends -- oppression and inequality are the cornerstones of poverty and food insecurity. That's why in every community, it's so important to build inclusivity. We want to build support networks, change systems, start conversations and look out for one another.

During the talk, we discussed big picture ideas for fostering social inclusion: raising the minimum wage, bridging the gap between Indiana University's campus and the city of Bloomington, and investing in infrastructure so as to provide low-income individuals affordable housing. However, these aren't all that you can do for helping create a more socially inclusive community; sometimes, grassroots changes can make just as big of a difference as big picture ideas. Start talking to your neighbors, reach out to people who might need help, and stand up for your community in everyday situations. Encourage education and compassion. If everyone contributes to our vision of a more socially inclusive community, it could become a reality sooner than we think.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Food Day 2017


The Hub is celebrating our annual Food Day celebration, complete with an urban agriculture demo, a canning demo, kid-friendly activities and lots of pie!

Food Day is a national celebration of food, focusing on health and fairer food policies. The idea behind food day is simple: promoting healthier, affordable and ecofriendly food for all Americans. With our country's resources, there's no excuse for underfed or unhealthy populations. Food Day also highlights one of Mother Hubbard's central mantras: food is a basic human right that everyone should have easy access to.

You can take Food Day as an opportunity to change your perspective on food policies, start eating healthy, or begin educating yourself on food justice. Everyone is welcome to join our celebration, so feel free to bring your friends and family too!

We want to celebrate food in all its glory. That's why we're coming together as a community, discussing issues, and enjoying a delicious slice of pie at our Food Day!

Join the event on Facebook.

We're looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Need to enroll in the ACA?

At the Hub, we know that access to affordable healthcare is vital to those experiencing food insecurity.

Because of recent budget cuts, enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has become more difficult this year due to the lack of regional health directors' involvement. Spreading the word for ACA enrollment has been a struggle for a lot of government officials, so we at the Hub wanted to help in any way that we can in raising awareness for the specific dates you can enroll.

This year, enrollment is open from November 1st to December 15th. According to Get America Covered,  8 out of 10 qualify for financial help, with premiums starting from $50 to $100, and there could be even more savings for individuals who can't afford these options.

Unfortunately, will be taken down from midnight to noon every Sunday, so if you're wanting to enroll, this site can't be used at those times.

This link can direct you to a list of Certified Navigators in Monroe County, who can help you choose a health care plan: 
Or you could contact Nancy Woolery at 812-349-3851 or

Another local resource you can use is Covering Kids and Families of South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP). You can contact Katie Rodriguez for help with enrollment at 812-339-3447, or at

For a full list of local resources, go to 

It's important that everyone has access to health care, and you can help people become aware of the current policies by sharing this information with those who may not know about them. Help us spread the word about enrolling for the ACA this year!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Local School Board Responds to Demands to End Lunch Shaming

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard joined the Hoosier Hills Food Bank, the Commission on the Status of Black Males, and many other organizations, commissions and individuals in calling on the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) to end their lunch shaming practices, and change their policy on lunch debt collection. You can read more about our efforts on this issue here, and here.

Following the June School Board meeting, when many spoke out against the policy of giving students with unpaid lunch debt an alternative meal (thus stigmatizing them and making them accountable for debt that their parents owe), MCCSC Superintendent Judith DeMuth called a meeting with those who had made public comments at the meeting. At that meeting, Hattie Johnson, MCCSC's Director of Nutrition Services announced the details of DeMuth's new lunch debt policy, which did away with the alternative meal, and took the students completely out of the school lunch debt collection process.

At the July School Board Meeting on July 25, the new policy was officially approved by the school board, and passed unanimously.

All of us at The Hub are pleased with the outcome, and proud to have been involved in this effective campaign about such an important issue.

What's next?
While we are thrilled to see this destructive policy removed from our local school system, these sorts of lunch shaming policies persist across the nation. Support the bipartisan federal
legislation, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017 by signing Feeding America's petition to urge congress to support this legislation. You can also write to your representatives at the statehouse, and at the national level, to let them know your views on these policies, and urge them to take action to put an end to them.
A huge thank you to all of those who participated in the Hub's Advocacy Working Group, and to everyone in the community who stepped up and spoke out on this issue. Our voices can make a difference.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cute Food!

Summer is the season for patty pan, zucchini, yellow crook neck and other tasty summer squash. Gardeners often have an abundance of these beauties to share with friends and neighbors, and our pantry produce section is bursting with a variety of summer squash. Kids Cook participants had the chance to try a fun way of preparing patty pan squash this week. Patty pan has a similar texture and flavor to zucchini, but its squat and rounded shape makes it ideal for stuffing.

We prepared a savory rice filling and parboiled the squash beforehand, then the kids hollowed out the squash with a spoon. After filling with the rice mixture, and placing the "caps" on top, they go in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until piping hot. The kids enjoyed the rice in its own edible bowl, and you can too! Check out the recipe the recipe and try it tonight!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Make your own sandwich bread!

Looking for a fast, easy meal to put together?  Versatile and classic, sandwiches are a quick and cost-effective way to put together a meal during the week. 
Baking your own bread at home for sandwiches has a lot of benefits! Commercially prepared breads often have higher levels of sodium compared to home-baked breads and have lower levels of vitamins and minerals due to a production process that strips the bread of some of its nutrients. They also include various preservatives and artificial ingredients. When baking your own bread, you can avoid preservatives, high sodium, cross-contamination, and insure you get all of the nutrients. Baking your own bread is also super cost-effective when compared to buying from the store!

Kayte Young, Nutrition Coordinator
When choosing a sandwich bread, whole wheat is a nutritious and delicious selection. Most individuals need between 6-8 oz of whole grain a day (3-5 oz for children 8 years and younger). Whole wheat is an example of a recommended whole grain as opposed to refined grains, such as refined breads and white rice. 
Whole wheat also has more fiber than most breads, which will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time in between meals!

You can try the recipe we used in our sandwich bread workshop. You might like it so much you'll want to work it into your weekly routine. 

Finished products from The Hub's winter breadbaking workshop

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lunch Shaming Call to Action: School Board Meeting Follow Up

As many of you have been following, last night was the School Board meeting addressing the school lunch debt or “lunch shaming” policy.  An impressive number of parents, students, organizations, and city commissions attended and made statements. We were proud to have representatives from Hub staff, CEO Amanda Nickey and Nutrition Coordinator Kayte Young and from the Hub Advocacy Working Group, Thomas Vanderplough and Celestina Garcia.  In many ways, Celestina sent the most powerful rallying cry for the policy to be changed, you can hear her statement by clicking the link below.

There was so much news coverage of last’s night’s School Board Meeting, we decided to compile it for you here:

Kayte Young will be speaking about the issue on this Friday June 30th’s WFIU Noon Edition.  

Next Steps for concerned citizens:
  • Dr. DeMuth will be reworking the policy to present at the July board meeting.  Contact Dr. DeMuth here or find information for district leadership here and share your ideas for a new policy. Read more here: Superintendent welcomes input on MCCSC meal debt policy
  • Share your concerns with the public by writing a letter to the editor.
  • Attend the next School Board meeting to hear about the new policy being proposed.  Details: Tuesday, July 25th at 6pm at the MCCSC Administration Building at 315 E. North Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401

As mentioned in the meeting, there is bipartisan federal legislation, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017, addressing the issue of lunch shaming. Feeding America has a petition you can sign to urge congress to support this legislation.

The Hub is so proud to working with those in our community who believe that all should have access to food in a manner that upholds the dignity of all involved.  If you would like to join the Hub’s Advocacy Working Group, contact Stephanie Solomon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lunch Shaming Call to Action

We believe a follow-up is in order from our Lunch Shaming Call to Action meeting on Wednesday.

As some of you know the meeting was attended by Superintendent Dr. DeMuth and Board President Martha Street. Their presence was unexpected but provided some insight into the rationale for the policy. More on the meeting can be found in this coverage from WFIU.

In the course of the meeting it became clear that the act of shaming the child is the most contentious part of this policy. District officials communicated that the policy was effective and they didn’t see the acts as shaming.

Our group concluded that we would like to request the board do the following:
  • Stop the act of taking away lunches and replacing them with cold lunches when children have debt.
  • Create policy that doesn’t stigmatize children.
  • Create a district policy detailing the steps taken to ensure families are connected with the free and reduced lunch applications throughout the year.
  • Create a policy that states the collection of debt is only directed at parents or guardians
  • Establish a community fund/money in the community fund to be used to ensure that all children have the lunch they choose (the current fund does not seem to prevent lunch from being taken from children. It appears it pays back past debt).

Many of these policy suggestions come from Food Research Action Center. These recommendations were shared with the full board and Dr. Demuth in previous communications.

Next Steps for concerned citizens:
  • Attend the School Board meeting Tuesday, June 27th at 6pm at the MCCSC Administration Building at 315 E. North Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
    • Provide public comment. To make a public comment arrive a few minutes early and complete a comment card.  Your name will be called when it is your turn to speak.
  • You can also weigh in on the issue by contacting district leadership here.  
  • Share your concerns with the public by writing a letter to the editor.

There is bipartisan federal legislation, the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017, addressing the issue of lunch shaming. The School Board and Dr. DeMuth seemed unaware of this legislation. Feeding America has a petition you can sign to urge congress to support this legislation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our Thoughts on Local 'Lunch Shaming'

Post submitted by Amanda Nickey, MHC President and CEO

As the director of one of the largest direct emergency food service providers in the region, I am deeply concerned by the MCCSC policy regarding unpaid school food bills and believe it does not reflect the caring community I know Bloomington to be.

Dr. DeMuth believes the policy works well because students aren’t denied food, and what she calls the “swapping out of the meals” – when the child is forced to hand over the meal they’ve selected and have it thrown it away, in return for a cheese or peanut butter sandwich, fruit, and milk- is handled delicately and is hardly noticeable by others, besides the recipient child.

The above is most disturbing to me because it seems to imply that the only concern is whether others notice the child receiving the alternate meal, not what it must feel like to be the child receiving the alternate meal. This leads me to believe that Dr. DeMuth and the board are ok with the child knowing he or she is being punished for the unpaid bill.

In my correspondence with Dr. DeMuth and the School Board I offered information about the extent to which hunger impacts our community, sharing that 1 in 5, or close to 5,000 kids in our community face hunger and that close to a third of families experiencing food insecurity aren’t eligible for SNAP and other assistance programs.

Punishing children for decisions outside of their control creates even more stress for families on the edge. Many families in our community are already making difficult financial decisions between paying bills, the rent, or buying food. And while it is not a social issue the schools have an obligation or the resources to solve, it is one they can choose to not make worse.

To force a child to throw away a hot lunch and take a cold one, regardless of the nutritional value or who sees it, is cruel. It communicates to the child that they are undeserving of being treated with dignity and respect.

It is clear that the collection of the debt is a very important issue for Dr. DeMuth and the board. The statement by Dr. DeMuth that the policy works well for the district seems to imply that making children give back and throw away the food they’ve already selected in exchange for a different meal, is effective in getting parents to pay the debt. 

Regardless of whether this tactic achieves the goal, I have to question the collective ability of the School Board and Dr. DeMuth to lead a school district reflective of our community values if their best method is to actively harm children to make parents pay the bill. Making a child take an alternate lunch, throwing away food they have already selected, and addressing debt collection through the child in the first place, are cruel and abusive tactics and have no place in our schools. I find it unbelievable that given what we know about child development, bullying behaviors, the connection between poverty, shame, and food insecurity, that our school board would choose to continue this practice and make it an official policy of the district.

Simply removing the child from the equation is the best and most reasonable solution. I have shared a resource guide with Dr. DeMuth and the School Board from the Food Research and Action Center on crafting a policy that doesn’t harm children and ensures that families get connected with valuable programs like reduced cost and free lunch. I urge them to review the guide and create a policy better reflective of our community values.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Session is Over!

Understanding the Indiana General Assembly’s legislative process is daunting, but we from the Hub’s Advocacy team worked harder than ever to get educated and engage in the political process.  With the help of the League of Women Voters, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, and the Indiana Institute for Working Families, we learned a lot about how bills are drafted, introduced to a committee, and ultimately passed.  A resource that helped us along is the Indiana Chamber’s How a Bill Becomes a Law: A Description of the Indiana Legislative Process with a Glossary of Terms.  

Before we get into the details, let us tell you what we learned about bill tracking.  This is the process of watching a specific bill as it goes through first reading, into committee action, onto additional readings, into conference, and hopefully signed.  This can be a tedious process, as there was no exact way to know when an action was being taken on a bill besides constantly refreshing the website.  An excellent new tool for us was Ping the People, a website that allows users to get email notification about the bills they are tracking.

A major focus of this long session was to pass the biennial budget.  In addition to that, legislative priorities were placed on infrastructure, education, and opioid addiction prevention.  The Hub tracked the following bills that were focused on the nutritional safety net: SB 9: Supplemental nutrition assistance program and drug convictions, SB 154 Asset limitation for SNAP eligibility, and SB 277 Healthy food initiative program.

Senate Bill 9 would have allowed individuals formerly convicted of a drug related crime to apply for and receive SNAP benefits. The Hub supported this bill because increasing access to public assistance lowers the recidivism rate, and will reduce the number of people in Indiana facing poverty and food insecurity. The bill was voted out of the Senate but then died in the House which means it did not get voted on and cannot be enacted.  Legislators claimed they would rather focus on “treatment and prevention of the opioid crisis”.  We are hopeful that lawmakers will see the connection between a stronger safety net and lasting prevention and that this bill may be proposed in the future.

Senate Bill 154 was introduced to eliminate SNAP asset limits.  Assets are things like retirement accounts, savings and checking accounts, vehicles, and other personal property.  Currently, if someone has more than $2,500 in value in any of these things, they are ineligible for SNAP.  Asset limits force folks to make the hard choice of having assets or receiving assistance.  The current rule creates impossible decisions that only reinforce cycles of poverty and food insecurity.  As introduced in the Senate the bill would have removed the asset limit altogether.  In its next version it moved the asset limit to $10,000.  Unfortunately, the bill was amended in the House to move the asset limit to $5,000.  It does exempt Certificate of Deposits and prepaid funeral expenses.  Individuals must prove their assets.  This bill passed out of the House with votes 97-0, so it was great to see complete support of Hoosiers in need. In the end, even if SB 154 only slightly raises the asset limit, its passage is a step toward cutting some red tape for the most financially vulnerable Hoosiers and continues the conversation of how we address hunger and poverty at the state level.  

Senate Bill 277 was the healthy food initiative program, which would have established a a fund to provide fresh and unprocessed food in underserved areas. This bill died in the House in early March.  Supporters of the bill say they will propose this bill in the future with the goal of attaching money to it to support increased access to healthy food.

The Hub’s wins from this legislative session are that more people will be able to access food because of increased asset limits.  Amanda Nickey, the Hub’s President and CEO and Stephanie Solomon, Director of Education and Outreach were able to testify at the statehouse for the first time and we have widely expanded our advocacy network around the state.  We also launched our Advocacy Working Group which has met once a month and addresses food security, health care, and housing from the perspective of Hub patrons.  

We learned some important lessons this session.  Overall, we were disappointed at the lack of political will to advocate for the basic, everyday needs of people who live in Indiana.  We do not want to lower our expectations of elected officials and instead resolve to advocating the needs of real people and communicating that food is a basic human right.  In the future, we hope to host an elected official for a visit at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, continue growing our Advocacy Working Group, and increasing the knowledge and engagement of the Hub community.