By Stacey Shannon—
MUNCIE, IN—With the mission of empowering the Muncie community through food-based initiatives, Inside Out has been serving healthy food to children since 2014. The local non-profit organization, which grew out of Blood-N-Fire Ministries, now serves 68,000 meals per year.
Since one out of three children in the community are food insecure and around 18% of families are below poverty, Inside Out plays an important role in helping kids get healthy meals. Inside Out program administrator, Angelica Lasley said the organization serves more than 1,000 meals to well over 200 children per week by partnering with schools and after-school programs.
“The need for this is significant,” said Bob Ball, founding executive director. “Our mission is really empowering a generation of kids to have fresh opportunity to advance in life.”
The meals served by Inside Out focus on healthy foods that often food insecure families don’t have access to. Lasley pointed out the program is helping children learn to try and then eat healthier food. As kids get older, they also have an opportunity to learn about food preparation through Inside Out and can help make food at the center and at home.
In fact, some of the youth who are now part of the Fresh Food Sense program learning to prepare food grew up eating the meals Inside Out provided when they were younger.
“Now they’re learning to prepare those same meals [they once ate],” Lasley said.
Inside Out also plans to launch a job training program soon to help youth learn about food preparation, financial literacy and life skills. Ball said the program will allow the youth to even earn a small stipend while honing their skills.
Another new offering on the horizon is a grocery store style food pantry for income eligible families thanks to a partnership with Second Harvest. Ball said he is working on getting the financing in place for that program to begin. Financing is easier said than done right now.
“It’s challenging when we’ve seen food prices go up easily 40 or 50%,” Ball said. “Our budget is challenged.”
Along with rising food prices, rising utility prices have increased production costs as well. Inside Out is always in need of donations to help them continue to grow and serve even more children.
Right now, Lasley said the organization provides snacks in Madison County and she is working with an organization there to help them get their own program started. Ball said each year his organization turns down opportunities to reach even more people because the resources just aren’t there.
“I want to feed kids,” he said. “That $15, $20 [or] $25 gift can really make an impact on how we’re helping kids in the community.”
Lasley added, “Donations are huge, because it takes about $5 to feed a healthy meal to a child.”
Inside Out works five days a week preparing and serving food, so volunteers are also needed. Lasley said she encourages groups, employers and families to come in and volunteer.
“Bring a team,” she said.
For more information about Inside Out, visit its website at https://www.insideoutmuncie.com/ where you can sign up to volunteer or donate.
This article has been sponsored by Pridemark Construction.
421 S Walnut St #2459, Muncie, IN 47305
Phone: (765) 284-3833