News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 25, 2013

Co-Op to Feed group delivering to needy

Grant to provide nutrition to qualified Housing Authority residents

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Three Terre Haute organizations are teaming up to deliver food boxes to “the neediest of needy” with specific health concerns on a monthly basis.

Families by Choice, Terre Haute Housing Authority and Catholic Charities Food Bank on Friday began “Co-Op to Feed” delivering 25 boxes to selected residents of Garfield Towers/Gardens.

“We are making an effort to be sensitive to two specific health problems — high blood pressure and diabetes,” said Muriel Ryan, founder of Families by Choice.

The organization received about a $4,500 grant from the Clara Fairbanks Foundation to organize and deliver food products to residents of the Terre Haute Housing Authority. That funding will carry the Co-Op to Feed program through Oct. 1, when additional funding will be needed, Ryan said.

Catholic Charities Food Bank provides the food at 19 cents per pound, she said.

Boxes on Friday contained foods such as no-sugar pies, corn, apples or oranges and bread. Each box contained just under 28 pounds of food.

To be part of the program, interested residents of the Housing Authority completed applications and “received a surprise inspection [from the Housing Authority property manager] to see what kind of food or resources they had,” Ryan said.

“These are truly the neediest of the needy,” Ryan said. “We found one person eating cat food and others with no food — nothing in the refrigerator or on the shelves. We discovered there are needy people with no food stamps or just $22 to $32 for an entire month.”

The program has 75 names and 25 people were initially served Friday.

“The only thing that is holding us back is we need more volunteer hours, people who will sort and people who will deliver. These are individually labeled boxes,” Ryan said.

Julie Haan of Terre Haute said a friend forwarded a posting earlier this week from the Families by Choice Facebook page seeking volunteers. Haan, who home-schools her three children, said she decided her family could help.

“I thought we needed to do that. We are free and available and are winding down our school year,” said Haan, who along with children Katie, 14, Lucas 14 and Emily 11 loaded food into each labeled box at Catholic Charities Food Bank on Friday.

“For our family, our faith system compels us” to show love and serve others, Haan said. “It also instills in the kids the value of giving to the community and we are thankful for the blessings that we have in our family and in our community. We definitely want to help wherever we can.”

People seeking to volunteer can call Ryan at 812-230-4401 or go to the Families by Choice Facebook page and register to volunteer.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or