The Dairy Industry’s Immigration Problem

By Data | Indiana • May 24th, 2017

The Dairy Industry’s Immigration Problem

By Cassidy McDonald
and Janet Stengle

Doug Leman was born in Francesville, Indiana, and he expects to die in Francesville, Indiana. His family has lived in Francesville for three generations: His parents were dairy farmers. And so were their parents — and their parents’ parents.

Naturally, Leman became a dairy farmer, too. His four sons grew up helping with his 800-cow herd and he planned to pass the farm on to them.

“Our goal was to build something so our sons would have a future,” he said.

But six years ago, Leman made what he said was the toughest decision of his life: He said goodbye to his eight employees and sold the farm in northwest Indiana. He handed over his keys at midnight, and another farmer was in charge by sunrise.

After Doug Leman (left) sold his farm, he became executive director of Indiana Dairy Producers, a job that allows him to visit farms often. Brian Houin (right) owns Homestead Dairy. (Photo/Cassidy McDonald)

And just like that, Leman ended a line of four generations of dairy farmers.

His reason? He couldn’t make enough money to stay afloat. (Americans don’t drink as much milk as they used to.) He also had trouble finding reliable labor. The turnover for hiring and training local farmhands was too rapid, and subsequently blew his budget. Most of his workers were from Mexico.

“It’s not a glamorous job,” he said. “Dairying goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week … [Immigrants] are doing the jobs that nobody wants to do.”

For small farms in particular, profit margins are slim, and demand for milk is on the decline. Immigrant labor accounts for 51 percent of all dairy labor, and dairies that employ immigrant labor produce 79 percent of America’s milk supply, according to a 2015 Texas A&M report.

Homestead Dairy’s newest members smile for the camera. (Photo/Cassidy McDonald)

If the country were to eliminate immigrant labor entirely, the Texas A&M report found, the United States would lose an estimated $32.1 billion in output, and retail milk prices would increase about 90 percent, meaning a typical $2.50 gallon of milk would cost $4.75.)

Leman said his immigrant workers have been like family to him. He worked with one man who had just arrived from Mexico with a 6-month-old son. Years later, when his son turned 16 and his friends began to get their driver’s licenses, he couldn’t. He wasn’t a citizen.

Leman was unsettled. “This is the only home he’s ever known,” he said. “These are human issues.”

Now, Leman is the executive director of Indiana Dairy Producers, an organization that unites the state’s dairy farmers. He says the industry, all over the state, is in economic trouble.

Conventionally-milked new moms chew on feed. (Photo/Cassidy McDonald)

“Our dairy producers are sucking air again,” he said.“I think the climate is about the same as it has always been,” Rosenow said. “I’m always really concerned. One of the things I worry about the most is immigration.”

Leman is in favor of allowing more immigrants to legally work on farms. He considers himself a “frustrated Republican” when it comes to immigration policies, and he says the national conversation underestimates the complexity of the issue.

“Let’s let them come out of the shadows and become really involved community members — and they will be,” Leman said. “They want to just be normal human beings and be treated like that.”

Brian Houin stands in one of his four robotic milking stations. (Photo by Cassidy McDonald)

Despite the increased focus on President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, immigration issues in the dairy industry are nothing new. John Rosenow is a Wisconsin farmer with 1,000 cows and 20 employees — 10 of whom are Mexican immigrants.

He says his employees have all shown him official documents, but he’s still afraid immigration authorities will find errors in the papers and deport his workers. If that were to happen, he said, “I’d go out of business, because I won’t have people to milk the cows — and if I don’t have people to milk the cows, I can’t exist.”

Rosenow advocates the expansion of the H-2A visa program to the dairy industry. Currently, fruit and vegetable farms that hire seasonal workers can utilize the H-2A visa program. But dairy farms operate year-round, and cannot use those visas.


360 view: Robotic milking station.

Cows are milked three times a day in the conventional barn. (Photo/CassidyMcDonald)

The H-2A Improvement Act, however, has been introduced to the Senate, and would allow foreign dairy workers to live in the US for an initial three-year period.“That’s an ongoing issue that should inform the discussions we have today about a farm labor problem,” Graff said.

But not everyone believes this is the best arrangement. Dan Graff, a history professor and director of the Higgins Labor Program at Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, says that farming has historically relied on low-wage, immigrant labor. When federal government began writing worker protection laws in the 1930s, southern Democrats agreed to support the laws if farm and domestic workers — primarily African-Americans and Mexican-Americans — were excluded from the provisions.

Dairy farm workers are paid an average wage of $11.54 per hour, according to the Texas A&M report, and Rosenow said he pays his workers over $40,000 per year with housing.

“We sort of lock ourselves into these economic arrangements where we then tend to think that they’re inevitable,” Graff said. “If you take one step back and say, well, we have a system where the labor force is highly vulnerable and underpaid… maybe we should rethink that whole sector if it has to rely on it that way.”

Leman believes the future of the industry lies with innovative farms like Homestead Dairy, a 4,000-cow operation in Plymouth, Indiana that houses the world’s largest robotic milker.

Homestead’s owner, Brian Houin, is obsessed with data. His cows wear ankle trackers, which Houin said function like Fitbits. Each calf is genetically tested at birth and the herd’s every move is stored on an app that Houin checks constantly.

But Homestead is an outlier in the dairy industry, well ahead of the technological curve. Houin’s efforts have yielded major cost savings that other dairies may never be able to access.

Leman, it seems, was forced to rethink the farm as a viable source of family income. Leman’s four sons now have steady jobs and are making more money than they ever would have on a farm, he said — a bittersweet outcome.

“It’s great, but it’s sad,” he said. “My youngest grandkids don’t really even know what a cow is.”

Alternative Long-Term Care Options Growing as State’s Nursing Home Ratings Sink

By Erin McAuliffe and Daniel O’Boyle • May 15th, 2017

The Milton Home in South Bend has been cited by Medicare 27 times in the last two years, including poor food preparation, substandard care giving, bedsores, infection control, subpar hiring practices and lack in protection from abuse, physical punishment and involuntary separation from others.

And the Milton Home is not an isolated case: According to Nursing Home Report Cards, 94 percent of nursing homes in Indiana had deficiencies in 2014, the most recent year the data were available.

Before the vote in 2015 to endorse a three-year moratorium on new nursing home licenses in Indiana counties with nursing home occupancy rates lower than 90 percent, Indiana nursing homes sat at an average 76 percent occupancy rate with more than 12,000 empty beds, according to according to a December 2014 report from the state’s Family and Social Services Administration.

The state was given an “F” rating in both 2014 and 2015 by Nursing Home Report Cards.

According to Medicare, the most rampant nursing home deficiencies in South Bend currently involve the screening, hiring and training of staff, infection and bed sore prevention, accident hazards and safe food preparation.

Jack Mueller, chief operating officer at Holy Cross Village, a nursing home and senior living community located near Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame campuses, spoke to the prevalence of nursing home deficiencies in South Bend leading to its low national ranking.

“Everybody has stuff they can work on,” Mueller said. “[Food preparation] is always the big one, always number one on the hit list … I’ve been doing this for 30-some years, I don’t know if [nursing homes] just haven’t gotten better at that or what, but it seems to be one that reoccurs every year.”

On the topic of inadequate staffing, Mueller stressed that homes need to be careful throughout the hiring process.

“That shouldn’t happen, but I know it does … Sometimes people aren’t careful about checking the references or the criminal history,” he said.

Mueller applauded the steps the Community Foundation of St. Joseph’s County has taken to improve nursing home quality, noting the collaboration fostered through the Foundation’s educational programs and funding for administrator round tables.

Angela Workman, program director for the Foundation, said she was impressed with the way administrators from competing homes were able to cooperate.

“It’s interesting because at first glance, from an outsider’s perspective, that group may define themselves as competitors,” Workman said. “So maybe they wouldn’t want to get together in a group and share ideas about what’s working and what’s not. But I definitely have not found that to be the case at all … those who have participated long-term have really valued the community of people and the support they can give to one another.

“We just want to come along with things that don’t feel like more work, but feel like things that would be valuable to them. We’re not interested in creating more work and making their lives more difficult — it’s already difficult.”

Nursing home dining area photo

The kitchen area at Holy Cross Village. Jack Mueller emphasized the prevalence of deficiencies in nursing home food preparation across the industry. (Photo/Erin McAuliffe)

Mueller added that there has also been a recent national push toward nursing home improvements, initiated by the Center for Medicare Services.

“There were new rules put into effect [by the Center for Medicare Services] in November that we’re working on right now,” Mueller said. “They’ve expanded the resident rights for people in nursing homes.”

Later stages of CMS implementations for nursing homes include requiring Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement and disaster plans from each home. These rules will affect nearly 1.5 million residents in the more than 15,000 long-term care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to CMS. Mueller said the new regulations were the most significant changes to

These rules will affect nearly 1.5 million residents in the more than 15,000 long-term care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to CMS. Mueller said the new regulations were the most significant changes to federal law surrounding long-term care since 1989. However, the moves may be too little too late as new options present opportunities for elderly people to live more independent lifestyles.

“We’re all scrambling for people, for clients,” Mueller said of South Bend’s nursing homes. “None of us are full.”

But that could soon change as a flood of Baby Boomers will pour into nursing homes over the next few decades. The amount of people in the United States over 65 years old will nearly double by 2050, according to the United States Census Bureau.

The trend toward assisted living is evident locally: Vermillion announced that it would build four assisted living complexes with one location in Mishawaka. Assisted living provides desired independence with a desired price tag: the average cost of a private room in an assisted living facility is $43,470, compared to $98,550 in a nursing home.

Assisted living will only become a more prevalent option with technologies like telemedicine and autonomous vehicles on the horizon.

Telemedicine, remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications, is already practiced in South Bend. Indiana passed a telemedicine-focused law in July that made it legal for medical authorities to prescribe medication without an in-person visitation. In January, Beacon Health Systems launched a secure video doctor visit program to care for patients with minor ailments.

Mueller mentioned that CMS is currently pushing to have doctor visits done through telemedicine at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, noting its capabilities to save residents and staff expensive trips to the hospital.

Tim Balko, assistant professional specialist teaching Foresight in Business and Society at Notre Dame, said the trend has staying power.

“If you can reduce the amount of time that seniors take up in their day dealing with their health issues,” he said. “If you can take out some of that travel and time in-between with telemedicine, I think that’s going to balloon.”

Balko also predicted the industry-shifting effects autonomous vehicles could have on the elderly care industry, granting them the freedom to complete trips to the grocery without a valid license.

Currently, the most common reason elderly people enter nursing homes is some type of disability with activities of daily living, according to Health in Aging. Technologies that allow seniors to receive medical care at home and safely complete trips without driving delay the need for 24/7 assistance. Combine these trends with the rampant industry deficiencies and new assisted living facilities being built locally and the future doesn’t look so promising for nursing homes.

Workman worried about potential staffing crises nursing homes’ futures as the aging population increases, “That’s not even the question of quality, but having enough staff to take care of our community’s aging population.”

Have you or a family member experienced nursing home deficiencies first-hand? Please comment below.

Under Pence and Buttigieg, South Bend sees mixed economic results

By Lucas Masin-Moyer and Juan Jose Rodriguez • May 15th, 2017

Downtown_South_Bend_Above_St._Joseph_River

A view of downtown South Bend above the St. Joseph’s River. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

At the end of 2016, Mary Grace Sikorski was forced to close her restaurant, Spaghetti Joes on the west side of South Bend due to lack of business. A few months before Sikorski closed shop, Stephanie Mirza and her husband bought the Innisfree Bed and Breakfast just south of Spaghetti Joe’s and have seen massive success since taking over this past August.

Sikorski and Mirza’s business ventures reflect the mixed bag of economic development in South Bend under then-Governor, now Vice President Mike Pence, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg since the two were elected in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

The South Bend area, specifically, has been influenced by two major players outside of Pence and Buttigieg, whose roles in the economy weigh heavily into the region’s economic development.

“The Chamber of Commerce, they are working really hard to make South Bend a place for people to come and the visit South Bend people,” Mirza said. “There are just so many initiatives going on. And of course there is the university. Notre Dame has an orbit itself that brings people here, so there are kind of these two operating things that are more and more interacting together.”

Since 2013, the unemployment rate in South Bend has fallen from 10.5 percent to 4.8 percent, along with the rest of the state, where the unemployment rate fell from 8.4 percent to 4.1 percent.

This divergence in unemployment numbers, in which the state level is 0.7 percentage points below the city level, is representative of a greater trend across economic measures. The median income in of those living in St. Joseph’s County ($45,248) lags behind the state average of $50,532.

Dan Graff, a history professor at Notre Dame, attributes this discrepancy to the loss of industrial jobs in the area.

“You don’t talk to South Bend residents for very long and ask them about the economy and they don’t still bring up Studebaker,” he said. “ … [The plant] closed in the 60s and people are still talking about it. So it has been somewhat of a long-term problem. I think there’s been periods of hemorrhaging of industrial jobs in the wake of NAFTA in 1994.”


movie_play_blue2Animation: Google Earth timelapse showing the transformation of South Bend


This departure of the core of the economic sector led South Bend’s population to decline from its peak in 1960 of 132,445 to around 100,000 in 2010. This number, according to census estimates, has begun to rebound in recent years.

The mixture of positive signals (lower unemployment) and negative signals (lower median income and population decline) show the mixed nature of economic development in South Bend, a city where economic success is possible, yet far from a guarantee.

Economic Failure in South Bend

For Sikorski, the decision to pursue a lifelong dream of opening Spaghetti Joes was the result of a perfect blend of timing and desire.

“I was fed up with corporate America,” she said via an email interview. “After 15 years at my job, my position was eliminated. The same thing had happened after my first job out of college — I was at that one for 12 years. So I wanted to work for myself.  I also loved to cook and always had a dream of opening an Italian restaurant, so the time seemed right.”

Sikorski determined the name for her restaurant per Italian naming customs. When many members of a family have the same name — stemming from their being named after their own fathers or grandfathers — then the identifying characteristic becomes the skill around which the individual built his livelihood. With five “Joes” in the family, and Sikorski’s grandfather being known as such among his family for his passion for cooking Italian cuisine, the choice was simple for the new establishment’s name.

The fairytale of owning the family restaurant did not last long. After only eight months of operation, Sikorski was forced to close the restaurant, citing a lack of business rooted in low demand.

“The area was terrible for a restaurant,” she said.  “I should’ve done more research before deciding on the location, but it was literally two minutes from my home.”

Spaghetti Joes management photo

Spaghetti Joes owner Mary Grace Sikorski (center) alongside her father, Domonick Vito Corpora (left) and brother, Rev. Joe Corpora, C.S.C. (Photo/Mary Grace Sikorski>

Sikorski added that the restaurant industry was too demanding to justify continuing operation of the restaurant.

“I ended up going back to work for ‘the man,’ and it was far too taxing to keep up both the full-time job — which at this point was paying the bills — and running the restaurant,” she said. “Even with business at the restaurant declining, it was more than I could handle long term.”

Sikorski’s failure can be attributed, in some part, to the loss of South Bend’s industrial economic base. When Studebaker left South Bend in 1963, the rug was pulled out from under the city, who has still yet to recover completely after more than a half-century of stagnation.

This stagnation has made it harder for small business owners like Sikorski to succeed with less money flowing in and out of the city. In turn, Graff said, resources are restricted, and the number of jobs paying people a just wage and keeping them safely out of poverty has continually fallen since the early 1960s.

“(South Bend) used to have a much more significant industrial base, [but] the jobs that have disappeared or have moved away have not been replaced by jobs that pay the same,” he said.

The lack of economic success in the area was reflective of a larger nationwide trend which has shrunk the American middle class, Graff said.

“I refer to this nationally as a chronic crisis that we’ve been dealing with, the disappearance of stable long-term middle-class jobs for 40 or 50 years now,” he said. “You usually think of a ‘crisis’ as something momentary or a short period, and it’s chronic in the sense that it’s an ongoing thing. It long predates the Pence administration, and it’s bigger than Indiana too.”

Economic Success in South Bend

When Stephanie Mirza and her husband moved back to South Bend in 2016, they decided to take a leap and decided to purchase a unique home which doubled as a bed and breakfast.

“When [my husband] found out [he] had a position [at Notre Dame] to come back to … we looked at housing and he saw this place, he’s like this is amazing,” she said. “How often do you have the opportunity to not only buy a house but buy a historic home that’s also a bed and breakfast? We met the previous owner, asked her all sorts of questions like, ‘What in the world are we doing?’ She said it’s not that bad, it’s a lot of fun so we went for it and it’s worked out.”

 

Since purchasing the Innisfree — an Irish-themed bed and breakfast adorned with Gaelic symbols and with rooms named after famous figures in Irish history — the Mirzas have seen booming business, something Stephanie attributed, in part, to a revitalized South Bend.

“South Bend, since we left five or six years ago, has changed a lot. We left when it was at a low point and we come back and see life and interest and attention coming to this area which is good for us, good for our business,” she said. “The river lights [are] a beautiful addition, the Four Winds [Field], that’s a big deal. I think we’re going to see a lot more business because of that.”

InnisFree photo

The Innisfree Bed and Breakfast, on the west side of South Bend, was purchased in mid 2016 by Stephanie Mirza and her husband. The inn has seen success since the in the months since it came under new ownership. (Photo/Lucas Masin-Moyer)

Mirza’s success, and that of other small businesses in the region, has been helped by city-level initiatives spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. These initiatives, Mirza said, were aimed at improving the outward appeal of business, thereby helping them to grow income.

“The city has initiatives for small business,” she said. “If you want to improve the outside of your business and you’re within this radius of downtown, you can get grants to do that. I applied for one to work on the exterior part, it can’t be just for maintenance it has to be some new signage or some new … improve the look on the street.

Overall, Mirza said operating a business in South Bend has been a positive and successful experience.

“It’s been great,” she said. “We just moved from Berkeley, California, so it’s kind of a major shift as far as cultural and things like that. But the environment here has been really receptive and positive. People really genuinely want to help out.”

Will the Campus Crossroads Project Unify the Notre Dame Campus?

By Katelyn Higgins, John Horlander and Sierra Mayhew • May 15th, 2017

To many, Notre Dame Stadium is a destination six days a year. However, with the creation of the Campus Crossroads project, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick sought out to make it a destination 365 days a year.

In January 2014, shortly after Notre Dame concluded the 2013 football season, the university announced the largest construction and development project in the school’s history.

The Campus Crossroads Project is precisely that: a “crossroads” of academics, student life, and athletics. At the outset, the projected cost was $400 million, and over three years into the massive task that number has not wavered, school officials say. There are multiple facets to Campus Crossroads: the improvements to the football stadium and fan experience, a new student center and restaurants, new academic offices and classrooms, and more.

All aspects related to the football experience will be finished before the Irish kick off against Temple on Sept. 2, school officials say. The student center and academic buildings will be completed before the start of the 2018 spring semester.

Doug Marsh, the University’s architect and vice president for facilities design and operations said of the project, “Student life, athletics and academics in one building. It’s never been done before.”

Marsh took media on a tour of the Duncan Student Center, the addition on the west side of the stadium. Duncan will have three new eateries, Star Ginger Asian Grill and Noodle Bar, Modern Market and a coffee house featuring Intelligentsia coffee.

The first two floors will also have a student lounge, administrative offices and meeting rooms. The third and fourth floors will have a brand new student recreational facility, which will replace Rolfs Sports Recreation Center upon completion. Rolfs will be completely renovated and become a state-of-the-art practice facility for the Fighting Irish basketball teams.

Additional basketball courts will also be put in the north dome of the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, and they will open alongside the opening of the Duncan Student Center. The student rec center will feature a three-floor rock climbing wall, running/walking track, basketball court, and brand new exercise equipment.

The fifth level will be the new home to the career center, complete with interview rooms, offices, and more; the sixth floor is mechanical support. Floors 1-6 will be completed by spring 2018. On the seventh floor is a 500-seat ballroom, club seating, and more. The eighth and ninth floors also cater to premium customers.

The Duncan Student Center, located just a few yards east of the most-frequented classroom building on campus, Debartolo Hall, will offer close, easy access to students when it opens in January 2018. According to Senior Deputy Director of Athletics Missy Conboy, the plan for Duncan is for it to become a central spot on campus for students.

Improved Viewing

When the project was first announced, most believed the enhancements to the stadium were solely to offer premium seating to donors and high-paying guests. However, Conboy said that is not the case.

When the project was approved, Conboy said the school conducted a feasibility study on campus to see how the project would affect each part of campus, from the students and faculty, to the typical Notre Dame Football fan.

One of the initiatives to come from the feasibility study: put Rolfs Rec Center into the Duncan Student Center.

“We were in the midst of planning to build a complex for men’s and women’s basketball programs when we thought what if we relocate Rolf’s, which doesn’t have all that it needs now, to the same space as the student center so students can now have almost everything in the same location,” Conboy said.

Next, they developed plans to enhance the stadium to attract fans away from watching the game from home or at a sports bar. This meant the addition of premium space in the form of skyboxes and other premium seating. What many do not realize was the focus to improve the stadium for the “average Joe” fan.

Conboy said more than a year and a half into the project they realized they had to add updates for the average fan as well.

360 perspective: A look inside Campus Crossroads

ND crossroads tour #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

“We couldn’t open the gates this fall after three years of construction and have fans feel like they were still getting the same thing,” Conboy said.

This meant the majority of the stadium was to get a much needed facelift which included replacing the infamous wood bleachers for new metal covered bleachers. The concourse updates includes new paint and signage, renovating the bathrooms and concessions stands and the addition of over 200 TV monitors so fans can see the game while in the concourse.

Conboy stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of existing stadium. The project repurposed over 90% of the wood bleachers, searched extensively to find brick to match the original bricking and will even hand paint bricks near the gates to match the originals.

She referenced the innovation that Knute Rockne possessed when he built a stadium in the 1920s that held 60,000 people. It was important to continue the innovation with the Campus Crossroads project, she said.

With the stadium known as the “house that Rockne built”, undergoing so many changes, some critics have said it hurts the traditions that make the stadium great. Conboy disagreed.

“If Rockne were around today, he would have done the same thing because he was a great innovator,” she said.

Martyrs or Graduates?

Seniors had many negative opinions on the project have different and personal reasons for their resentment. They responded to a Google Questionnaire rating their feelings from 1-10 on the Campus Crossroads project. They rated their excitement towards the project as 4.4. They took offense to the project in a different way than underclassmen students.

Some seniors say that from the moment that they walked on campus to the day they walk across the stage to accept their degree, they have had to deal with the construction eyesore.

Senior Rachel Dupont, an anthropology major, felt strongly about the project. “I’m really happy that the anthropology department is getting a new place but I do feel like a martyr because I am missing out on a lot of things.”

The excitement about the project that the university has been using to increase morale on campus has been hurting seniors more than helping them.

360 perspective: A view from the 50 yard line

ND stadium 3 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

A Point of View From the Field

Morale has been low after a 4-8 record season for the Notre Dame football team. But one player thinks this project can help turn things around.

The introduction to an improved stadium can really affect the definition of the term “home field advantage.” Ashton White, a safety entering his second year with the football team, stresses the importance of the stadium.


movie_play_blue2Watch more: Video tour of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series


“It has an effect on wins and losses in the sense that we have a feeling of confidence and comfort that comes from being at home, playing in our stadium and in front of our fans.”

Coming out of a rough season for Notre Dame football, morale is low. These additions have the potential ability to boost the confidence of the fans and the team. Bringing in an improved locker room and stadium atmosphere is exactly what the school needs.

As White explains the excitement that the players have in relation to their experience in the new stadium, it becomes clear that this project has the ability to improve the game of football for not only the viewers but also the men on the field.

Marsh spoke of the project with a great view toward the campus’s future, referring to the renovations as “200 years from now.”

Timeline

Battling Hunger in Indiana: Food Insecurity Rates Vary Widely Around State

By Caelin Miltko and Dakota Connell-Ledwon • May 15th, 2017

Jennifer Lundy photo

Jennifer Lundy collects food for her mother and her family. Lundy is a former volunteer at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. (Photo/Caelin Miltko)


Jennifer Lundy, a South Bend resident, rolled her cart up to the counter at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. The cart was filled to the brim with produce and non-perishables to be taken home to her three daughters, her niece and nephew and her mother.

Her mother had just had shoulder surgery and was unable to work. Lundy said that getting from the local food bank helps her mother out a great deal.“I watched a lot of people come through here,” said Lundy, who used to volunteer at the food bank, “and you don’t realize the demand for these places.”

In Indiana, the average food insecurity rate between 2013 and 2015 was 14.84 percent, according the United States Department of Agriculture. This was more than a full percentage point higher than the national average in the same time period.


bluebookiconRead more: Bringing the farm downtown


Households ranked as having low or very low food security, as defined by the USDA, were included in those numbers. Across Indiana counties, the food insecurity rate varies widely. According to Feeding America, in 2014, the lowest county food insecurity rate in Indiana was 9.4 percent in Hamilton County, just north of Indianapolis. The highest was 19.4 percent in Marion County, where Indianapolis is located.

St. Joseph County, where the Food Bank of Northern Indiana is located, had a food insecurity rate of 16 percent.

“It’s a major healthcare crisis. 42 million Americans are food insecure,” said Dr. Craig Gundersen, a professor who studies food insecurity at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “That’s a lot of people that are food insecure. In and of itself that’s a serious problem. The other thing about is that there are many negative health outcomes associated with food insecurity and also that there’s higher healthcare costs associated with it.”

In Indiana, the food insecurity rate increased slightly in the early 2000s, spiked in 2008 and continued to rise slightly through 2015. According to the US Census Bureau, the average food insecurity rate in Indiana from 2010 to 2012 was 13.5 percent. The increase reflects a national trend.

Shane Turner, a South Bend resident, recently began volunteering at the food bank. He was exposed to the facility by his girlfriend, who used to work there. Turner decided he wanted to use his time to help make a difference in his community.

“It’s just an awesome place,” he said. “It helps out the community, really makes it a happier community.”

The pantry area where clients pick out their items is just a small part of the facility–a large storage area, complete with freezers and huge bins for sorting goods, extends beyond the pantry. The food bank currently has eight volunteers and two full-time staff, and the volunteers logged almost 50,000 hours last year in order to serve thousands of clients, according to Jaime Owen, an agency relations manager.

“Most people don’t go to a food pantry just once,” she said. “We have 25,000 visitors a week in our network.”

Shane Turner photo

Shane Turner helps Lundy ‘check out’ after she’s chosen her food. (Photo/Caelin Miltko)

Turner said he hopes to be hired as a full-time staff and become more involved with the food bank.

“I just wanted to come here and do something,” he said. His current duties involve packing food, clearing freezers and loading and unloading deliveries.

Food insecurity is only one statistical way of measuring hunger in a given area. The USDA defines low food security as “reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.” Very low food security is when there are “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”

 Gundersen said SNAP is “far and away the best way to address food insecurity. First, it would be great if we could get more people onto the program, either by making sure that those who are eligible participate and also by expanding eligibility criteria higher in the income spectrum, so more people would be eligible for the program. And another thing that would be great is to increase benefit levels.”

In Indiana, according to the USDA, 73 percent of eligible participants used SNAP in 2010. In 2014, 13.5 percent of Indiana’s population participated in SNAP and the number of participants increased by 2.53 percent from 2009 to 2014.

Another way of tracking hunger is through the concept of “food deserts,” which examines access to food by comparing the locations of the closest grocery stores, the income levels of the inhabitants and whether people have access to a vehicle.

In 2010, 33.77 percent of individuals in St. Joseph County had ‘low access’ to food, though only 9.17 percent were low income and had low access to food. Only 1.54 percent of households had no vehicle and low access to grocery stores.

“Whenever I think about food deserts, usually it’s not a big issue, but on an individual level it could be,” Gundersen said.

Owen said, “Most people are surprised by how great the need is. There is a stereotype of unwed mothers with 75 children and no education, but about half of our clients are under 18 or over the age of 60. That’s sad. No one should have to go hungry.”

The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is a member agency of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, and it works with about 200-member agencies–more than half of which are food pantries. The others are soup kitchens, shelters and other food services for low-income people.

Owen said the Food Bank of Northern Indiana encourages all of their pantries to be client choice, meaning they mimic grocery stores in their set up. Unlike the traditional food pantry, which prepacks boxes for clients, at a client choice pantry, users are given a set number of each type of item that they may take (carbs, veggies, hygiene products, meat, etc.) based on the number of people in their household. Then they use a shopping cart to collect their food and “check out” with a volunteer.

“Some of the stories are just tragic,” Owen said. “There are so many senior citizens who for some reason are now raising their grandchildren, or who have had something happen to other family members.”

Aside from their home pantry in St. Joseph County, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana works with several counties in the area with several different programs, including a “Food for Kids” backpack program and a mobile pantry, which travels to rural Stark County once a month.

“If we knew the answer [to solving food insecurity], we wouldn’t need food banks and food pantries,” Owen said.

Town and Gown: How Do Notre Dame and South Bend Make It Work?

By Madison Riehle and Allie Hoerster • May 14th, 2017

Before the University of Notre Dame’s economic and social influence gained traction, the city thrived off of the business and jobs created by the Studebaker automobile plant. At its height, the company employed 7,000 people, which was eight percent of South Bend in 1960, according to the Studebaker National Museum.

When the plant closed in 1963, both the population and the economy took a hit, with 20,000 residents leaving the city over 40 years, putting South Bend on Newsweek’s 2011 list of “America’s Dying Cities.”

Despite this, and due to recent pushes and changes in South Bend’s government and the sustained effort of new Notre Dame programs, South Bend is transitioning, experts and officials say.

“The city is growing and developing, it has some really positive areas.” said Jackie Burns Rucker, Associate Director of Community Relations for the University of Notre Dame. “It is a thriving community that has a large alumni population here, and has a really rich history.”

The City of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame are inextricably linked by a long-standing symbiotic relationship. As one of the largest enterprises in the St. Joseph County area, Notre Dame plays an integral role in the city’s economy, which makes community outreach initiatives and programs measures all the more important.

Juxtapose: The development of Eddy Street Commons over the last 14 years.

“There’s a symbiosis between the community and the University that we recognize more than ever, and I think communities around the country are recognizing this, so we talk a lot about the mutual benefit of our partnerships in a way that we can use our expertise on campus,” said Jay Caponigro, director of community engagement in the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

The Office of Public Affairs is just one of the ways that Notre Dame has involved itself in the community. Its goal is to build, maintain and support the community of South Bend by engaging Notre Dame students with city residents. The projects that the Office of Public Affairs executes revolve around the education and enrichment of South Bend children.

“Our after-school program is very diverse—we will host events here at the center, and we have an after school program that is 2nd through 4th grade,” Rucker said about the Center for Arts and Culture. “Within the after-school program, the first hour is literacy based and the second hour is arts and culture enrichment. I utilize art and culture to try to help build relationships.”

The Center for Arts and Culture is just one of the many sites that Notre Dame students and faculty invest their time. More than 945,850 hours of community service work is performed by more than 2,250 Notre Dame students and more than 360 University faculty and staff during the 2014-15 academic year, according to a 2016 economic survey of Notre Dame.


Blue map pin iconStoryMap: Notre Dame’s impact on South Bend


Similarly, academic courses engage students with the local community through entrepreneurship opportunities and funds, as well as community-based research, which is run by the Center for Social Concerns and includes an out-of-classroom service element.

“With the community-based research, you see a lot of Catholic social teaching coming up as part of the justification for getting involved in those projects,” Caitlin Hodges, Notre Dame Student Government Director of Community Relations, said. “That’s the language you’ll see replicated at just about every level of Notre Dame when they are doing something like that.”

This kind of engagement is understood as growth in human capital — and is the most important factor for economic growth, as it leads to higher educational levels and future funds.

Aside from time investments, Notre Dame is the leading employer in the South Bend area, employing around 5,700 South Bend residents. In fiscal year 2015, the University spent nearly $168.5 million on purchases of goods and services, excluding construction, from businesses in St. Joseph County, according to a report on a 2016 economic survey of Notre Dame.

360-Degree Perspective: Step into South Bend’s southeast neighborhood.

“We know that we have to have infrastructure locally that will attract people to come to Notre Dame,” Caponigro said. “We want to make sure there are learning opportunities in the community, not just on the University campus.”

Notre Dame also focuses its community efforts on maintaining the overall look of the community, as well as ensuring that student housing does not override affordable housing in the neighboring areas.

This includes the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization, which aims to build residential housing off of Eddy Street Commons through in the Triangle Residential District. Notre Dame is also making strides to maintain housing through the Notre Dame Avenue Housing Project.

“I think that’s a big conversation right now with gentrification,” Hodges said. “what happens when so many students are moving off-campus, and there’s a really good market and that’s how you’re going to make money, but that used to be a house where a family could have afforded to live. It’s not good or bad, but it’s balancing and sometimes it feels like it’s not very well-balanced.”

Through this mutually beneficial relationship, the city has grown, both in population as well as technology as the city’s population is up for the first time since 2000. Along with this, projects like Innovation and Ignition Park have begun to expose the area to new creative solutions to city problems, as well as provide support for student and local entrepreneurs.

“At the end of the day, it’s important for our leadership at multiple levels,” Caponigro said. “If our community doesn’t succeed, Notre Dame will not succeed — not at the level that we want to.”

Bringing the Farm Downtown: Purple Porch Co-op Cultivates Local Food

By Leong Weng Kuan and Molly Seidel • May 14th, 2017

Cafe Max photo

A Cafe Max cook sets out the Hot Bar’s daily specials (Photo/Molly Seidel)


In the heart of South Bend’s East Race district sits a tiny brick building with a wide-reaching impact. “PURPLE PORCH CO-OP” is spelled out in iron letters over a door through which a constant stream of people flow.

Inside, the small space is packed with shelves of whole foods, vibrant produce and a cozy cafe with smells that waft through the store.

“Knowing that I’m coming here to get some great food and also support the community just makes it more worthwhile,” said Kathleen Darling, a Purple Porch shopper. Darling, a student at Notre Dame, regularly visits the market and cafe to stock up on groceries and enjoy lunch from the salad bar.

The Purple Porch’s local market serves as community center, and the grocery store, cafe, and weekly farmers market provide city-dwellers access to sustainable and local foods right in the heart of urban South Bend.


bluebookiconRead more: Battling hunger in Indiana


Food co-ops have gained popularity around the country as a way for shoppers and producers to become more involved in their food choices.

And Purple Porch is no exception. The market is community-owned, democratically run, and has given shoppers a more transparent, sustainable and local grocery experience.

About 10 years ago, the co-op began as a weekly farmers market that brought together Michiana farmers with South Bend consumers. The goal was to combat a lack of fresh, locally-sourced foods within the city.

Over time the market grew, and by 2009 the member-owners of the co-op decided to rent space at Lang Lab on High Street, which houses up-and-coming business ventures in the city. An explosion of popularity after this move allowed the co-op to eventually buy their own building on Hill Street, which today contains the market/cafe and operates seven days a week.

Despite the growth, employees say the Purple Porch still retains the core values on which it was founded: local, sustainable, and transparent. The market specializes in locally grown and organic products from daily fresh produce to personal care items, and operates business with local farmers and producers between a 60-mile radius (local) to a 400-mile radius (regional) around South Bend.

360 photo: Inside the co-op

Inside of store – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Why Choose Local?

While the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines local as a 400-mile radius, Purple Porch Co-op focuses heavily on products grown and produced within a 60-mile radius around South Bend.

“While this is somewhat flexible, we pride ourselves in our commitment to keeping the food miles to a minimum,” said Myles Robinson, front operations manager at the market. “That way the food being produced is more sustainable… and it helps people to have a connection to the things they’re eating.”

Dr. Susan Blum, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, said she has a strong passion for local food and the Purple Porch.

“Buying and eating foods that have been produced locally is tangible ways to make a difference in society’s broken systems,” she said, “and the Purple Porch is instrumental for that in South Bend.”

By supporting neighbors, mitigating unequal economies, and bringing wonderful food to people who would otherwise not have access, she said she believes that co-ops such as the Purple Porch serve as epicenters of positive community change.

Blum served for almost five years on the board of the Purple Porch Co-op, acting as president, vice president and secretary. She described the co-op as the “thing she thought about the most for several years.”

She was instrumental in structuring the co-op’s founding principles of sustainability, local sourcing, community involvement and transparent production.

“Purple Porch Co-op is a force for good in the community,” Blum said of the co-op. “And the food, when it is sustainable- and locally-produced like it is here, is truly delicious.”

Wednesday Farmers Market

The Purple Porch has grown significantly over the past several years, yet it continues to host the farmer’s market on a weekly basis every Wednesday. From Spring through Fall, local farmers and producers load up their trucks, drive the short distance to the co-op and set up tents in the parking lot. Local shoppers can browse the variety of fresh goods, as well as order online ahead of time to pick up their goods direct from the vendors.

The cooperation agreement indicates that Purple Porch only collects a 10 percent surcharge on all sales at the Wednesday market, giving local farmers a wider platform to sell their products and make a profit. Purple Porch Co-op aims to encourage communications between buyers and sellers and to support local food production.

“Local means knowing the people that you work with and being able to advocate for farmers… to help them grow their business,” Robinson said.

According to the farmer’s market policy, customers can meet and interact with local producers, so that consumers can better understand the growing process and where their food is coming from.

The online order services provided by Purple Porch Co-op helps local farmers to save time and budgets for knowing the amount of products that they should bring to the market. Market sellers are producing their food within a 60-mile radius of South Bend, which guarantees the food quality.

Creating an Oasis in a Food Desert

A “food desert” is defined as a low-income urban area that lacks access to grocery stores or healthy food options. For many living in these areas, supermarkets are often several miles away, restricting options to unhealthy fast food or convenience stores.

Dr. John Brett, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado-Denver, recently finished research that examines the reason why the Park Hill neighborhood in Denver — one of the city’s wealthiest areas — has some of the highest rates of food insecurity.

“The key is not about convincing the community to let us come in, but is about to accepting the community as partners,” Brett said.

He stressed the need for “experts” in the field to listen to the life stories and experience of people living within food deserts. Greater understanding and compassion for the individuals affected by this crisis is crucial for treating the problem in the first place.

“Park Hill qualifies as a food desert, but now many people reconsider it as a ‘Food Swamp’ — there are lots of food but they’re not quality food.” he said, “Although there are convenience stores that you can get beers, cigarettes and lottery tickets, not fresh vegetables and meat.”

He said that enhancing the already existed resources is the easiest way to make a change in a food desert, for instance, trying to get funding to add fresh food items in convenience stores.

Food insecurity is essentially a systematic and ethnic problem, experts say.

“What we come down to is not a matter of lacking food access, but an inequity that created the lack of access, the reason of food insecurity is embedded in its historically determined and socially structured inequalities…the historical reason is predominantly African American becoming Latino neighborhood,” Brett said. “It’s a red line here – if you are non-whites, you can’t buy house there. It’s institutionalized, it’s not a problem of access to be fixed, it’s a system to be changed.”

Brett offered an example of how food access matters on elderly.

“If a 75-year-old man does not drive but take him two buses lines in hours and hours to reach a supermarket,” he said, “… in this case, the old man is geographically accessible to the supermarket, but socially, he can’t.” that’s what the food access problem is happening in Park Hill and that’s why local food is the remedy in any food desert.”

Purple Porch Co-op by Slidely Slideshow

Indiana’s Reputation is Expanding in Technology Industry

By Daniel O'Boyle • April 7th, 2017

When asked to think of cities associated with technology, one usually thinks of the coasts. Areas like Silicon Valley are usually seen as the key locations behind the modern industries of the 21st century.

But in recent years, Indianapolis — and the state of Indiana — have become major players in the industry too. Just last month, Forbes placed Indianapolis fifth among cities creating the most tech jobs, while Governing Magazine wrote about the city’s surprise success in the tech industry.

Echoing a similar sentiment expressed in his State of the State address, Gov. Eric Holcomb called on Hoosiers to embrace Indiana’s potential as a tech state in a recent letter to the Indianapolis Star.

This infographic shows the success of Indiana — and Indianapolis in particular — as a key location for tech jobs.

Infographic: Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens Vary by Destination

By Emily McConville • April 6th, 2017

If you are an American citizen, travel is easy. Over 100 countries offer visa-free entry to Americans, while dozens of others issue visas on arrival.

All travel, however, is governed by bilateral agreements taking into account internal and international politics, supranational organizations, health and safety.

This infographic outlines some of the things Americans need to do to travel to each country.