Spirit of Food

The Arc of Indiana County’s mission is to strive to include individuals of all ages with an intellectual development delay or other disabilities into all aspects of our community and beyond. Achieving this by identifying barriers, building partnerships and realizing positive solutions.

Our local non-profit organization, which was founded in 1973, is in the process of growing and developing new programs, training, advocacy and community outreach for the coming year. We currently are reaching our individuals with a small-scale produce distribution and anti-isolation initiatives. We continue to advocate with legislature, locally, federally and across the state to ensure the need of the intellectually disabled are addressed, continuing to improve lives, create independence and bring about community inclusion.

The individuals and the families we serve have been on lock-down since last March to ensure the safety from the pandemic as these individuals, as you are, are high-risk from complications and deaths due to COVID-19. Several surveys and research studies conducted recently show high levels of stress, depression, effects of isolation were reported from group home residents, staff, at home individuals and their families. The Arc of Indiana County is looking to offer The Spirit of Food Program to alleviate the negative effects of isolation, food disparity, decreased community involvment, while promoting inclusion, community connection, and healthy living and eating habits.

The Spirit of Food would provide a box of food bi-monthly to registered participants in group homes, and the Indiana and Armstrong communities to utilize during the offered cooking classes held virtually twice a month with area Chefs from local restaurants teaching food prep, safe utensil usage, cooking/baking and safe food storage.

This program will be free of charge to participants who will also receive a cookbook to follow along class presentation. The Arc of Indiana County will organize the classes presented on the virtual Zoom platform, order food boxes partnering with community food banks and groveries, schedule with area Chefs to instruct the classes, promote the class through ID Service Provider Network, AIBDHP, School Districts and Group Home providers.

Once in-person activities can be conducted safely, the Arc plans to collaborate and partner with area fire companies/associates to conduct instruction at the fire hall kitchens. This opportunity will pair first responders, law enforcement, legislators and EMS with our individuals to build relationships and create community inclusion, awareness with individuals with intellectual individuals the chance to meet where normally they may only connect in a crisis situation. Individuals with exceptionalities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are often unprepared to navigate encounters with first responders, especially when they are in a crisis situation.

The Spirit of Food Program will enhance participants’ lives by combating social isolation and lack of community connection during the extent of the pandemic and beyond. Food disparity and healthy habits are a pressing concern for this population. The program will promote inclusion and safe individual interaction while educating with cooking instruction and providing supplemental food to our at-risk participants and their families.

If you’d like to sign up for the program, the registration form is online. Click here to register