March 8, 2021

More Diversity Needed For Immigrant Families At Pantries

More Diversity Needed For Immigrant Families At Pantries

Immigrants in Indianapolis are relying on local food pantries during the pandemic to help stock shelves with different options.

The need to diversify comes as more immigrant and refugee families in Indianapolis turn to pantries for food since a federal public charge rule expanded under the Trump administration. 

The rule could negatively impact a person’s citizenship eligibility, so more people have fallen off the rolls of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The federal program provides low and no income people and families with electronic benefits cards that can be used to buy food. 

Immigrant Welcome Center Program Manager Amy Shackelford said there are other gaps in the food line.

“Not having the appropriate food that people want,” Shackelford said. “Another is not advertising and doing outreach about the pantry in the language that people prefer.”

The center is working with more pantries to stock foods desired by different cultures. 

Shackleford said there’s more awareness of the growing need.

“A lot of social service providers are coming to a realization that they are seeing a lot more immigrant and refugee clients and they don’t quite know how to navigate it and understand all the different policies,” Shackelford said.

The federal public charge rule is under review and could result in more immigrants receiving SNAP assistance.

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