Imagine you’re working two part-time jobs to support your family, just barely making ends meet. Then, your car breaks down…or you have an unexpected medical emergency that leaves you drowning in debt. Now you have a choice: pay your bill or feed your family. In Vermillion, this is an everyday occurrence. With a poverty rate of over 35%, and a food insecurity rate that is nearly double that of our neighboring counties (17%), financial insecurity is commonplace.
United Way of Vermillion and our partner organizations work hard every day to provide a hand up to those that are struggling to get by. The Vermillion Food Pantry provides around 50-70 pounds of fresh produce, meat, bread, dairy, and non-perishable foods to families at each monthly visit. The Welcome Table ensures families receive a warm, home-cooked meal every Monday night. The Weekend Backpack Program sends hundreds of kids home from school with enough food to make sure they can eat over the weekend. The Salvation Army gives emergency assistance to families that are facing a utility shut-off or struggling to get to a medical appointment. And the United Way partners with these and other programs all across the community to ensure that families have basic needs met, get help in times of crisis, and increase stability.
While our independent organizations provide much-needed services, our ever-increasing clientele shows us that we can do better. Over the past several years, we have been developing partnerships between our organizations like never before, starting with United Way of Vermillion’s Clay County Poverty Task Force, which brought together stakeholders to discuss how we could better address this pressing issue in our community. We’ve transferred excess food and supplies to each other, joined together to put on massive food giveaways that have fed thousands of people, and realized the inefficiencies of directing families across town from one service to another. As our alliance has deepened, we’ve realized the solution.