Lake County

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County Data

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Population & Health

Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Population 491,403 852,765 6,570,713
Households 182,080 317,592 2,481,793
Adult Obesity 34% 33% 31%
Adult Diabetes 11% 11% 11%
Food Insecure 16% 15% 15%
Poverty 18% 16% 16%

Lake County is part of Indiana Division of Workforce Development Region 1 and is considered Urban by the Purdue Center for Rural Development. According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, Lake County ranks 91 out of 92 for Heath Factors in Indiana. This ranking is calculated using data from a number of sources and indicators such as the physical environment, social and economic factors, clinical care and health behaviors. Health Outcomes are calculated using data on how long people live and how healthy they feel when alive. Lake County ranks 85 out of 92.

Education, income and community safety are factors that influence public health in your community. Everyone can be a part of community solutions and this online Action Center from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps can help you find research and evidence-based programs that can help guide your process for change.

Want to learn more about what the State of Indiana is doing for our public health? View policy activities from this excellent CDC online tool.

Consumption & Spending on Food

Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Annual estimated total food expenditures $1,285,323,393 $2,291,833,650 $18,059,224,280
Annual household food expenditures $6,818 $6,982 $7,008
Bakery and Cereal Products $580 $595 $597
Meats, Poultry, Fish and Eggs $948 $969 $973
Dairy Products $449 $463 $467
Fruits and Vegetables $803 $819 $819
Snacks and other food $1,467 $1,504 $1,511
Estimated Annual SNAP Benefits $144,094,126 $213,676,984 $1,435,225,425
Percent of total food dollars coming from SNAP food assistance 11% 9% 8%

In Indiana, we spend $11.3 Billion buying food at retail markets like grocery stores, superstores and convenience stores. 38% of our food expenditures are away from home, buying prepared food from restaurants, school cafeterias and other food service outlets, totaling $6.8 Billion.

27% of Hoosiers consume vegetables less than once a day, and 42% consume fruit less than once a day. Think about the different ways that you consume food each day. Sometimes it comes from a grocery store and you prepare it at home, sometimes you eat at a restaurant and sometimes you eat in a foodservice setting (cafeteria at work or school). Retailers make decisions based on what consumers are purchasing. Each time you eat, your choices determine the food available to you. In other words, each time you and other shoppers choose healthy food, you are creating more demand for healthy food from the retailer (grocery, prepared food provider).

Learn more about the changing landscape of consumer food values in the grocery stores and in restaurants. What are your food values? When you purchase food, are you thinking about the impact on the environment, social issues or your personal health and wellness? You could be part of the evolving customer values, comprising more than half of American consumers.

Food Markets & Access

Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Food Retail-grocery stores, superstores and specialty stores 112 182 1,511
Convenience Stores 212 356 2,417
Number of SNAP authorized stores 388 633 4,489
Farmers’ Markets, CSA Farms, Agritourism Farms 16 53
Number of Seniors with low access to food from grocers, supercenters or supermarkets 16,686 27,523 180,909
Number of children with low access to food from grocers, supercenters or supermarkets 35,980 57,917 367,428
Percent of population with low access to food 28% 27% 23%
Percent of population with low access and are low income 8% 8% 6%

A community food system has access to good, healthy food for all residents. Limitations for some of our community members, such as transportation, income and food access can create a food desert. If your County or community has a high percentage of people with low access to food, you might want to conduct a Healthier Food Retail Assessment to determine where people are purchasing food and what food is available.

If you are able to work with the various retailers in your community, you can approach them with tools and strategies to encourage and increase healthy food sales using the Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy resources.

These issues are complicated, making the solutions complex and long-term. Perhaps your community is interested in creating a civic engagement group for change or a Food Policy Council. These organizations are able to bring stakeholders to the table, facilitate public discussion of food system issues, and coordinate resources and people to synergize change for a community. Food Policy Councils Done Right by Mark Winne, is an excellent starting point for learning more.

Youth Health & Food Assistance

Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Number of Schools 131 248 1,874
Number of students enrolled in school 84,634 143,473 1,046,687
Percent of students who qualify for free and reduced price school meals 54% 50% 49%
Number of students enrolled in free or reduced price school meals 45,976 71,648 515,226
Percent of food insecure children 24% 23% 22%
Number of food insecure children 27,390 45,270 343,880
Percent of children in poverty 27% 0% 21%
Number of schools participating in farm to school activities 6 10 81

Children who are food insecure are at increased risk for a number of public health concerns including increased hospitalization and chronic health conditions such as asthma and anemia. An increased risk of behavioral issues such as school truancy, aggression, mood swings and bullying can estrange these students from their peers at school.

Families may earn just enough money to not qualify for federal food assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, but still may not be able to access enough food for their families. The Emergency Food Resource Network of food pantries and hot meal sites are working to provide food to families at risk for hunger, food insecurity and very low food insecurity.

Feeding America is the network of food banks across the U.S. who supply the food pantries with low cost food for their patrons. Indiana has 11 food banks that each serve multiple counties.

Innovation is part of the way forward for food banks and food pantries with many sourcing locally grown food to distribute to clients, educating clients about food self-sufficiency with gardening programs and food preservation classes. Some food banks are freezing the harvest for frozen, healthy food distribution year-round.

Farm to school and a focus on healthy food at school have brought change to food education, purchasing and school gardening programs across the U.S. If your local school does not have a garden or is not purchasing from local farmers, find out how you can start.

Agriculture & Employment

Local Food Farming & Sales Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Number of farms selling directly to consumer 28 193 3,673
Number of farms selling to retail buyers 9 61 991
Dollar Value of direct farm sales $373,000 $2,348,000 $26,783,000
County Ranking of direct sales 22 NA NA
Approximate per capita spending on local food direct from farmer $1 $3 $4
Number of farmers’ markets 7 18 180
Number of CSA farms 1 14 230
Number of Agritoursim farms 8 21 277
Number of Farm to School programs 6 10 81
Food System Jobs & Wages Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Total number of all jobs 209,373 343,495 3,197,179
Average earnings per worker $52,823 $45,304 $43,845
Number (%) of food and agriculture related jobs 28,792 (14%) 53,768 (16%) 476,021 (15%)
Number (Percent of food and ag jobs) and average earnings in...
Input Supply 49 (0.17%) 755 (1%) 11,427 (2%)
$35,927 $47,057 $46,738
Farming 400 (1%) 3,579 (7%) 26,297 (6%)
$20,212 $32,841 $28,950
Processing 1,285 (4%) 3,884 (7%) 49,119 (10%)
$67,890 $63,965 $50,174
Distribution and Warehousing 1,629 (6%) 3,432 (6%) 29,751 (6%)
$60,504 $58,325 $50,625
Retail 25,143 (87%) 41,508 (77%) 354,856 (75%)
$18,595 $16,953 $17,566
Waste and Recycling 284 (0.99%) 610 (1%) 4,571 (0.96%)
$80,944 $71,961 $47,882
Agricultural Crop Production Lake County Region 1 Indiana
Number of farms 430 3,652 58,695
Percent of land in farms 42% 63% 64%
Acres of pastureland 4,350 32,191 762,619
Acres of woodland 2,696 48,808 1,048,632
Harvested cropland 124,208 1,186,323 12,590,633
Acres of harvested corn for grain 67,072 660,534 6,036,712
Acres of harvested soybean 49,932 392,408 5,144,179
Percent of land in corn and beans 94% 89% 89%
Acres of harvested food crops (fruit, nuts, berries, vegetables) 756 6,330 41,687
Percent of harvested land in food crops 0.61% 0.53% 0.33%
Number of Greenhouses with vegetables and fresh cut herbs 1 5 203

It is estimated that it takes about 1 acre to produce enough food for one year for each person in our latitude. This includes the full spectrum of the human diet of dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit and grains. Of course agricultural production is not that simple, but as a state, Indiana has more than 12 Million acres in production and 6.5 Million residents. With our agricultural history and knowledge, we are prime to produce more of the food we consume.

If each person redirected just 10% of their food expenditures on locally produced food, our state would grow a $1.8 Billion industry from farming and food businesses. In every food category, we have enormous opportunity for growth. Categorizing the $18.1 Billion in food expenditures in Indiana, we spend:

  • $1.5 Billion on bakery and cereal products
  • $2.5 Billion on meat, fish, poultry and eggs
  • $1.2 Billion on dairy products
  • $2.1 Billion on fruits and vegetables and
  • $3.9 Billion on snacks and other foods

Our challenge is creating the job opportunities in the food system including farming, distribution, warehousing, processing and waste – the jobs that require skill and knowledge. Without a robust local and regional supply chain, even an increase in the production of food in Indiana will not help us create that billion dollar food industry.

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