Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.

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More in Elkhart County have jobs, but they still rely heavily on food banks, soup kitchens to scrape by

Places such as Susanna’s Kitchen, Church Community Services and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana are still busier than before the Great Recession.

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 2:05 p.m.

The economy is on more solid footing than during the Great Recession.

More people have jobs.

That doesn’t mean Elkhart County residents rely any less on the food pantries and other agencies that serve the needy. In fact, numbers at local agencies are holding steady, by and large, or even going up (scroll down to see the graphics). The refrain I keep hearing from those who work with the needy is that more people are working, but many aren’t earning enough to get by and still need help each month to make ends meet.

Some highlights:

  • More are going to Susanna’s Kitchen for the hot meals it serves each weekday.
  • The numbers going to Church Community Services for groceries at its food pantry increased dramatically through fiscal year 2012, though they’re on track to taper, slightly, when fiscal year 2013 ends on July 31. Still, demand far exceeds pre-recession levels.
  • The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is sending more and more food to Elkhart County for distribution at food pantries here.

This is the third installment of data ahead of a planned package of stories looking at how Elkhart County is now faring, five years after the end of Great Recession of 2007-2009, which hit like a hammer. Here are links to the earlier installments:

  • The number with jobs still lags the 2006 level, notwithstanding declines in the unemployment rate (look here).
  • Average wages at manufacturing jobs and the number laboring in the sector lag pre-recession levels (look here).

On to the new data:

Demand up for hot meals:


Food pantry visits still far exceed pre-recession levels:


Food bank distributions coming to Elkhart County on the rise:


Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.

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