In early 2015 when Gleaners representatives met with the Indianapolis Public Safety Agencies and Chief Troy Riggs, the thought of directly impacting disadvantaged neighborhoods was an idea that everyone could get behind. How to do it in a meaningful and efficient way was yet to be determined.
What resulted was a summer mobile pantry program, geared toward 6 key intersections in Indianapolis where daily lives can be a struggle. The program recognizes the connectivity between hunger and other socioeconomic issues.
In a home where there is hunger, there may also be lack of educational achievement, unemployment, a higher crime rate or feelings of isolation.
Then came the summer of 2017.
From the first week of the program in early June, it was clear that need was far exceeding expectations. Lines were longer. More children, senior citizens and veterans than ever before were lining up to receive assistance. The need was so great in one east side neighborhood that the mobile pantry had to relocate to Save A Lot on East Michigan Street to accommodate the volume.
By the end of the summer, nearly 75,000 people had been served representing a 65% increase from 2016. Approximately 600,000 meals were distributed. In addition to the traditional non-perishable goods, a vast increase in fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables will lead to overall improvements in not just the quantity of food distributed but also the quality. On any given day, children's eyes grew wide when they saw watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, cabbage, apples, oranges and eggplant.
Planning is already underway for 2018. Summer is a critical time for many families in need, and the CARE Mobile Pantries help bridge that meal gap for the most vulnerable among us. Thanks to your generosity, families were able to not just make it through the summer, but improve their diet along the way.