About The Food Bank

Creating Healthier Communities

  • Donated Food

Hunger is a story we can end.

In May 1993, United Religious Community of St. Joseph County’s Hunger Education Task Force accepted the challenge of reestablishing food banking services in north central Indiana.  That July, an organizing committee brought together the first board of directors that agreed that the North Central Indiana Food Bank would be the organization of record created to address local problems of hunger and malnutrition by providing quality food to participating social service agencies.

The North Central Indiana Food Bank began operations as a SDO (Subsidiary Distribution Organization) of Gleaners Food Bank of Indianapolis.  Our first distribution of 6,800 pounds was made in December 1993 to 29 agencies.

As our member agencies and donor base grew, we became self-sufficient and large enough to be considered for national certification.  In February 1996, we became a certified food bank of the America’s Second Harvest National Food Bank network.  As a member of America’s Second Harvest, we received offerings of donated product, with allotments based on the poverty population within our service area.

In July 2000, we purchased our location on Chapin Street in downtown South Bend, an 82,000-square-foot facility, to ensure adequate storage to meet the rising demand for food in northern Indiana.

In 2006, our organization’s name was changed to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana serving Elkhart, LaPorte, Kosciusko, Marshall, Starke and St. Joseph Counties.  In 2008, America’s Second Harvest changed its name to Feeding America, representing what their member food banks do each day.

Today, the Food Bank actively partners with local and national manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, food growers, packers and brokers to procure food.

 In addition, businesses, organizations and individuals conduct food and funds drives.  We are extremely grateful for the financial support we receive from corporations, foundations, organizations and individuals like you.

In 2020, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana distributed 11.9 million pounds of food to its network of 140 member agencies in its six-county service area.

Today, nearly 13% of the residents of northern Indiana are food insecure.  They don't know when they will eat their next meal.  Hunger is a silent epidemic.  When all of our residents have food security and access to nutritious foods, we will be even better physically and mentally prepared to take on life’s challenges.

Feeding America

For 35 years, Feeding America has responded to the hunger crisis in America by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks.

The concept of food banking was developed by John  van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ, in the late 1960s.  Van Hengel, a retired businessman, had been volunteering at a soup kitchen trying to find food to serve the hungry.  One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children.  She suggested taht there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, disgarded food could be stored for people to pick up - similar to the way "banks" store money for future use.  With that, an industry was born.

Van Hengel established St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ, as the nation's first food bank.  In its initial year, van Hengel and his team of volunteers distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need.  Word of the food bank's success quickly spread, and states began to take note.  By 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country.

As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America's Second Harvest the Nation's Food Bank Network.  In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization.

Today, Feeding America is the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization - a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country.  As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest national levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need.  We feed 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.  Learn more about how we get food to people in need in our "How We Work" section.  Support Feeding America and help solve hunger.  Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate.


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