USI student crafts project to help fight food insecurity

USI student crafts project to help fight food insecurity

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A University of Southern Indiana student is proving it is possible to beat poverty.

14 News met Katie Vinci on Friday afternoon to learn more about her passionate plans to help people who don’t have enough food. This push is not just for a letter grade, but instead, a token of gratitude.

Vinci will soon graduate with a social work undergraduate degree. Although this is a class project, the plans are more meaningful. It should be completed by May.

A little library, for book exchanges, stands in Tepe Park. Soon a similar concept, but for food, is expected to be added.

“This isn’t going to solve the food insecurity problem overnight, that can be tomorrow’s goal,” Vinci smiled. “But I think if we can, at least, help one family eat then all of it matters.”

Vinci is crafting a mini food pantry for her neighbors who are in need.

“I’ve always been driven to help people,” Vinci said. “I’ve always had a passion for that.”

Perhaps that is because, for years, she also lived through hardships.

“Yeah, I would say survival mode because if you’re not sure where your next meal is coming from, or where you’re sleeping that night, it’s hard to focus on literally anything else,” Vinci recalled.

Vinci grew up in Indianapolis, and although her parents fought to provide, the family went through a lengthy food insecurity phase. She recalled it not always being easy navigating social service systems. This concept is “take what you need, and leave what you can.”

“I remember a specific incident where me and my sister had walked up and grabbed a box of macaroni and cheese out of one of these boxes and was able to feed us for that day, so that is kind of what inspired me,” Vinci added. “Just that one meal can get you through to the next day to do what you need to do.”

Woodworking students through USI’s art department are helping Katie build the box. She is also coordinating with the Tepe Park Neighborhood Association and Urban Seeds.

“It might seem simple, but it makes all the difference for families who are in need,” Vinci explained.

There is an estimated cost of several hundred dollars to complete this project.

For those who would like to consider helping, email Katie Vinci at

In January, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke suggested forming the Food Insecurity Commission to city council. It was approved and the first meeting is set for the middle of this month.

Board members are still being selected.

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