INDIANAPOLIS — With around 700,000 people in Indiana relying on food from food banks every year, the need to feed those who are hungry is evident.

This year, Hoosiers can help make a difference and, in return, receive free tickets to the Indiana State Fair.

The state fair has partnered with Elanco, Indiana Farm Bureau, the Indiana Association of Fairs and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to create the new FAIRs Care program.

“The goal is to eliminate hunger in Indiana,” said Andy Klotz, public relations director of the Indiana State Fair Commission. “That’s a lofty goal, but we’re going to at least start chipping away at it. This is one way we thought would chip away at the problem and provide more information to empower others to do the same.”

Fairgoers can donate nonperishable foods or make a monetary donation at any of the 15 county fairs participating in the program.

Anyone who gives at least $3 will receive two free tickets to the state fair. The tickets are for any day of the state fair, Aug. 2-18, while supplies last.

Klotz said that food and money donated at the county fairs will stay in the same community to help those closest to home. The following county fairs are participating in the program:

* Allen;

* Decatur;

* Elkhart;

* Hamilton;

* Hendricks;

* Jennings;

* LaGrange;

* Lawrence;

* Marion;

* Monroe;

* Noble;

* Porter;

* Starke;

* Vermillion; and

* Wells.

“They don’t need to go to an event or a fair to donate to their local food banks, but hopefully this will get people more aware of the need that’s in their community,” Klotz said.

“We all enjoy going to the fair and finding that favorite funnel cake or whatever you like to enjoy at the fair, so it’s easy to forget that some people don’t have the means to have a regular meal every night.”

Elanco Animal Health has been involved with food-security efforts in Indiana for many years, but has specifically partnered with the state fair for three summers.

“We see the great Indiana State Fair as a showcase on agriculture and food,” said Ted McKinney, director of global public affairs at Elanco Animal Health.

“The reach to both ag and non-ag audiences is terrific.”

McKinney said that by 2050 the globe will need 70 percent more food, and 70 percent of that must come from new technologies across the food chain.

“The state fair is a way for all of us to come together and celebrate food, celebrate the importance of new technology,” he said.

On the last day of the state fair, Elanco and Indiana Farm Bureau will award eight $500 awards to county fairs, at random, to promote continuation of the food drives in 2014.