Column: Local partnerships address food insecurity


Commentary by Cindy Muse

More than 22,000 Hamilton County residents are food insecure, according to Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank. Multiple resources are available in Hamilton County to help address food insecurity, but the need continues to increase.

One such resource is helping the environment while also assisting those who are food insecure. The Carmel United Methodist Church food pantry is on Range Line Road near downtown Carmel. It has served food insecure Hamilton County residents for more than 30 years. In 2023, it served more than 3,600 individuals, of which approximately 50 percent reside in Carmel.

Many of these families come monthly for the fresh and healthy food choices the pantry provides through its partnerships. The food pantry teams up with a local restaurant, a local grocery store, the farmer’s market and several church gardens to supplement its offerings with deli and bakery products and fresh produce. The food pantry team “rescues” food by keeping food surpluses out of the landfill and filling the bellies of hungry children and adults.

According to Feeding America, the United States produces more than enough food to feed all of us if we did not waste millions of pounds of high-quality food each year. Recycle Track Systems estimates that grocery stores throw away about 30 percent of the food offered. When combined with uneaten food at restaurants and by consumers, $145 billion worth of meals goes to landfills every year. Not only does the food waste fill up landfills, but it also contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. As the organic waste decays over time in anaerobic conditions – landfills – the food waste emits methane gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste comprises approximately 24 percent of the municipal solid waste in landfills but causes 58 percent of the methane emissions.

By teaming up with Fresh Market to offer deli products, Panera Bread for bakery products, the Carmel Farmers’ Market for a variety of food stuffs and church gardens for fresh produce, the CUMC food pantry enriches the offerings it can provide to folks who are food insecure. Additionally, the food pantry supports a healthier environment for all of us by “rescuing” food and working towards eliminating food waste.

Cindy Muse is a board member with Carmel Green Initiative, Inc. Learn more and contact the organization at