Partners work to reach over 13% of residents in St. Joseph County living with food insecurity
South Bend, IN. (August 26, 2020) – enFocus, a nonprofit that attracts talent to regional organizations to drive innovation and build stronger communities, teamed up with the St. Joseph County Food Access Council, a council coordinated by the SJC Department of Health, to develop an interactive Food Pantry Map of 40+ organizations serving residents in need. Prior to the pandemic, over 13% of residents in St. Joseph County were faced with food insecurity. As demand for assistance continues to rise in the wake of COVID 19, the council identified the need to connect residents to food resources in South Bend and neighboring communities. enFocus learned of the opportunity through their work with the department of health and volunteered resources to work together to develop a tool.
Robin Vida, MPH, CHES, Director of Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education for the St. Joseph County Department of Health and coordinator for the council, said “we have experienced a marked increase in requests for food assistance and we were excited to work together when enFocus offered their support. It is a fundamental part of our work to protect the health of all residents and this is just one way we are supporting vulnerable populations in our community.”
The Food Pantry Map is a searchable tool that provides the locations, days of week and hours of operation for over forty local food pantries in St. Joseph County. It also provides details on eligibility for services from participating organizations. The Food Pantry Map can be found digitally at bit.ly/SJCFoodPantryMap or on the SJC Food Access Council website. Additionally, the St. Joseph County Health department and community organizations throughout the county will be distributing pocket-size printed versions to reach at-risk populations without digital access.
enFocus and the SJC Food Access Council are encouraging local organizations that work with individuals or families in need of food assistance to link to the map on their websites. Also print copies of the map are available upon request through the SJC Food Access Council website.
In addition to enFocus’ work with local organizations on sponsored projects, enFocus fellows may dedicate 30% of their time to Research, Development and Entrepreneurial (RDE) activities to spark innovative ideas and launch them to benefit the community. Jamison Edwards, enFocus Innovation Fellow, built the interactive Food Pantry Map with his 30% RDE time. Edwards shared “I enjoyed the opportunity to work with the dedicated team at the Department of Health and create a tool that can provide a tangible impact in the community I live in.”
Of the collaborative effort, Robin Vida added “enFocus has been and continues to be a great partner and together we are focused on serving the needs of our residents.”
About enFocus, Inc.
enFocus is a nonprofit organization that empowers talent to transform communities in the South Bend-Elkhart region. We recruit recent graduates into a two-year Fellowship program and develop them into the next generation of community and business leaders. enFocus Fellows work alongside experienced mentors in the corporate, nonprofit, education and public sectors to discover, design, and implement innovative solutions to benefit the community. We partner with local organizations to provide value on sponsor projects, and we give Fellows the tools to launch entrepreneurial businesses or social ventures.
To-date, enFocus has engaged over 900 young professionals to work on over 200 projects across Northern Indiana sponsor organizations. Nearly 70% of these individuals have stayed and call Indiana their home. Our Fellows have incubated more than 20 new businesses and created more than $85 million in economic impact through innovation projects.
Together, we are solving complex problems, growing businesses, and changing the way communities innovate. For more information, visit en-focus.org.
About St. Joseph County Department of Health Food Access Council
The St. Joseph County Food Access Council, coordinated through the SJC Department of Health strives to ensure all SJC residents have access to healthy, quality food by facilitating community driven solutions to local food system problems. The group meets monthly on the third Tuesday of every month. For more information on the SJC Food Access Council, please reach out to Robin Vida at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-245-6749.