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Jonathan Lawler, Brandywine Creek Farms

Project 23:22
Monday, February 6, 2017, Room AB021

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For seven years, the Greenfield-area man operated Lawler Farms, a for-profit, sustainable produce farm, harvesting nearly 700,000 pounds of food annually.  Now he's on a mission to feed the hungry in Central Indiana. Lawler has revamped his 36-acre farm into a nonprofit operation called Brandywine Creek Farms. His goal for the first year is to donate 500,000 pounds of food, which he said is realistic, based on the farm's capacity and the addition of an army of volunteers to help through the season.  On top of that, Lawler has joined forces with Gleaners, Midwest Food Bank, Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen and other area food banks as distribution partners.
According to statistics provided by Gleaners Food Bank, 1 in 8 people in Central and southeastern Indiana struggles with hunger and food insecurity; that number grows to 1 in 6 in Marion County. Of the 170,820 people in Marion County who lack consistent access to enough food, 51,440 are children, according to Map the Meal Gap 2015, compiled by Feeding America. . . . Midwest Food Bank reports that Hancock County was among 14 counties in Indiana that ranked highest in total food insecurity (9 to 10 percent) in 2013. . . . Many of those who struggle to put food on the table don't qualify for the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program because of income guidelines. They rely on faith-based aid and food pantries to bridge the gap.
With these statistics in mind, Lawler thought about the impact he could make if his farm's production was directed at food banks and soup kitchens instead of retail and wholesale outlets. . . . Lawler started Brandywine Creek under the umbrella of Project 23:22 as a way to encourage other landowners to participate in feeding the hungry.  Project 23:22 refers to a Bible verse from the Book of Leviticus: ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner residing among you.’