INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A $580,000 measure created to test strategies aimed at alleviating food insecurity for residents of Indianapolis’ most dire “food deserts” has been passed by the Indianapolis City-County Council, the city has announced.
Under the program, up to 500 local families will be eligible for “heavily subsidized” Lyft rides to and from Indianapolis grocery stores.
The measure will also expand food delivery options for people living in food deserts and create a mobile market stocked with nutritious food choices that visits neighborhood sites on a regular schedule. City funding will ensure discounted mobile market prices for customers. The market will accepted several payment methods, including SNAP, according to the city.
In addition, the program will double the number of “food champions” recruited from food deserts in neighborhoods on Indy’s east and west sides. Food champions undergo training and receive a stipend to help develop approaches to address the lack of grocery options at the neighborhood level.
A portion of the funds approved will be used to support a Food Compass app, which is designed to “help Indy families navigate eligibility for pantries and meals and make the most of locally available resources” by providing comprehensive information regarding food pantry and hot meal sites.
“This proposal jumpstarts some solid ideas. We’re taking ideas that are shovel ready, based on input from a range of community members and implementing them today—with the understanding that we may make additional changes to keep serving our neighborhoods better as we go forward. Proposal 258 is the beginning of a conversation that the Council, the Mayor and the community need to have to find a long term, sustainable solution to addressing the hunger, food insecurity, food deserts and food access issues that are faced by far too many in Indianapolis,” said Council President Vop Osili.
State senator and Indianapolis mayoral candidate Jim Merritt had this to say about the measure:
“While I am disappointed not to get more movement on proposal 258 towards real efforts to solve food apartheid in our community, I appreciate that the council at least began a discussion about the wisdom of Mayor Hogsett’s corporate boondoggles versus true community building.”