Trade fights mean more donations for Indiana food pantries


INDIANAPOLIS – International trade fights are having an unexpected upside for Indiana programs that focus on feeding the hungry.

To make up in part for the lost overseas markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying much more food from producers, and that food ends up at food banks and pantries.

Josh Trenary, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producers Association, says the government bought 10 times as much pork this year than in the past – so much, in fact, it was a challenge at first.

But he says it’s the kind of problem feeding programs like to have.

“It was such a great opportunity to get this much protein at once, they have found ways to make it work,” Trenary states.

The trade situation remains in flux, but Trenary says the mitigation program looks likely to continue for at least one more year.

According to Glenn Roberts, executive director of Tri-State Food Bank in Evansville, the federal government had never before bought fresh milk – it was typically dried or condensed.

This year, he says his food bank got 12,000 thousand gallons of fresh milk from the three states it serves.

“And our cooler would be just jam-packed with milk – and of course, that is the most perishable item,” he relates. “But again, we are in the business of feeding hungry people. This has been a huge blessing to us.”

Roberts estimates in all, his food bank received an extra 1.3 million pounds of extra food in 2019 due to trade mitigation.