Hamilton County nonprofit focuses on food security


By Cassie King

The 2024 Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank annual meeting celebrated accomplishments from the past year and focused on goals moving forward. The meeting was March 19 at the Delaware Township Community Center in Fishers, with the theme “Destination: Food Security.”

Board President Kathy Young opened the meeting and introduced Executive Director Anita Hagen, who shared highlights from the nonprofit’s annual report spanning Nov. 1, 2022, through Oct. 31, 2023.

“We provide food, that’s what we do,” said Hagen, adding that 150,423 meals were provided in 2023 at a cost of $309,438. That was a 25 percent increase from the previous year.

“This is a local food bank, and these are all local donors,” Hagen said. “We have a destination of food access for all. Let’s take time to enjoy the journey.”

Other statistics Hagen highlighted include:

  • More than 22,370 individuals in Hamilton Country are food insecure. According to the report, many of those individuals are ineligible for federal nutrition assistance.
  • Services were provided to 45 local organizations with 32 receiving food, with an average annual cost of $9,679 per pantry or program.
  • More than 300 volunteers provided 4,859 service hours, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year.
  • Produce and meat distributions increased by 48 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

Hagen emphasized the importance of multiple roles in the food bank, including bookkeepers, school and food drive leaders, shopping volunteers and produce and meat volunteer leaders, to name a few.

“It’s a huge undertaking,” Hagen said. “It does not happen without volunteers.”

Chris Badger has worked part-time with the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank for five months in food procurement.

“I run around and try to use our dollars the best I can,” Badger said.

Badger shops at local stores for food drives, pantries and school programs and collects certain stocked items, nonperishables, produce and meat.

“We try to be healthy,” said Badger, who previously volunteered before taking the paid position.

Board Vice President Alan Ariel highlighted the need for a new home base to better serve the food support network of Hamilton County.

Former Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear and Pastor Teri Ditslear spoke of their many years of support for the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank through donations, volunteering and advocacy. They urged those in the audience to consider how they can help the mission of lowering food insecurity.

Also during the meeting, Suzanna Hobson and Christina Ferroli were elected to the HCH Food Bank Board of Directors for three-year terms. Retiring Board President Kathy Young and longtime bookkeeper Larry Hopp were recognized for their service.

To read the full 2024 annual report and for more information, visit hchfoodbank.org.