In 2018, one in four households in Delaware County were earning too little to afford the basic costs of living. In 2020, the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is worsening the burden on these families.
Associate Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Management Dr. Josh Gruver launched the Muncie Food Hub Partnership a few years ago to lend a hand in the battle against food insecurity. Now in the midst of a global pandemic, he and several Ball State students are determined to keep the food hub operating.
The Muncie Food Hub Partnership brings together the Ball State community and local food producers and nonprofit organizations to provide east central Indiana residents with a stable source of fresh, regionally-sourced produce and other goods like meat or dairy.
The grant-funded initiative is even more critical in times of a public health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, Gruver said during a recent interview with FOX59, because the food supply chain suddenly becomes disrupted.
“Those distribution channels get messed up essentially. There have been images I’ve seen on the news of farmers having to dump the milk that their cows have produced, or produce that they’re not able to distribute through the normal regular distribution channels. So we’re trying to help that.”
The food hub is currently selling local produce every Thursday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Open Door Farmer’s Market, located at 333 S. Madison St. in downtown Muncie. The market is planned to stay open through October, as long as it remains safe to do so.
The Open Door Farmer’s Market accepts several forms of financial assistance, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) coupons, and IU Health Bucks.
The market is currently staffed by two Ball State students: Ronald Bell is a second-year graduate student in the natural resources and environmental management program who got involved with the food hub when he took Dr. Gruver’s course on sustainable food systems this summer. And Katie Crawford, a first-year graduate student studying nutrition and dietetics, first learned about the food hub as an undergrad when she took an elective course through the Department of Environment, Geology, and Natural Resources.
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