When In2Action became partners with The Food Bank late last year, Director Dan Hanneken was surprised by the quality of food provided.
And the impact of those dietary improvements among the residents there, he says, has been nothing short of amazing.
“Since getting healthier food, something new started happening,” Hanneken says. “The guys began believing they can take care of themselves physically. They’re going jogging. They’re going out for bike rides. I don’t know if they’re thinking ‘if we can eat healthy, we can take care of ourselves in other ways, as well.’ But I’ve never seen anything like it.”
In2Action is a not-for-profit that helps men successfully transition into society after serving prison time. Prior to The Food Bank, the agency used funding from state contracts to provide one-time $150 gift cards that allowed new residents to buy food until they could find work. Because the program requires clients to wait 30 days before seeking employment, that grocery allowance had to last.
“When you’re on a budget like that, how healthy the food is at the store is not even a consideration,” Hanneken says. “You want to get as much as you can for as little as possible.”
Last year, In2Action saw its state funding cut. Hanneken was not sure what the agency was going to do about food. He feared that hunger would have a negative impact on residents’ success.
“These guys are released from prison without any resources or support and are told to go do the right thing,” he says. “Things like getting hungry can cause them to make decisions they had no intention of making. We have to remove those distractions by meeting basic needs.” Hanneken says he is grateful for The Food Bank and those who make the operation possible. “These guys have to eat today, no matter what,” he says. “This partnership has been an incredible difference maker.”