Gleaners Anticipates 4th Summer for CARE Mobile Pantries

Summer will soon be here, which means Gleaners is busy planning for one of our most challenging service times of the year. During summer months when school is out, additional stress is often placed on families already struggling to meet day-to-day needs.

Suddenly, children home from school need breakfast and lunch – not just dinner. For the most desperate among us, this can mean a time when working parents are juggling the added expenses not just of food, but of child care, back-to- school shopping for fall, and more.

CARE Mobile Pantries were started in 2015 as a partnership between Gleaners and the Indianapolis Public Safety Agencies to address hunger in 6 areas where poverty and crime are high. Since that time, more than 170,000 people have been served.

At a recent Gleaners’ Board Meeting, IMPD Chief Brian Roach was asked to describe what it means to be poor in these communities. What do officers see when responding to calls?

“When we visit a home where hunger is an issue, we find hot dogs, soda and bread available to eat. Nothing healthy is available due to either lack of grocery stores in the neighborhood or lack of money to purchase healthy options. The poor among us are focused by necessity on the next catastrophe to come. It could be a health crisis, car trouble that leads to job loss, a child in trouble. For many of these families, it is hard to imagine getting from Monday to Tuesday, let alone finding healthy, nutritious food to eat. Parents and grandparents frequently go without in order to provide for young children in their care. Children focus on their next meal rather than their homework. Many lose hope that anything will change.”

CARE Mobile Pantries arrive in these neighborhoods literally bearing the words “We deliver hope” on the side of the truck. Thanks to our Produce Hope initiative, and help from a generous $100,000 gift from the Walmart Foundation's State Giving Grant, trucks are now stocked with a variety of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. Meal making items are purchased to ensure the family has an opportunity to not just eat, but share that family meal time many of us take for granted.

Hear a story from Gleaners' CARE Mobile Associate on what access to fresh, nutritious foods means for one woman who comes to shop at a CARE Mobile Pantry.

"One lady pulled me aside to tell me how great the produce looked that day. She walked to the site from her home just a few blocks away, but it was still a long trip for her. She had breast cancer and couldn’t lift anything with her left arm. Thankfully she had a cart with her so she could carry home some of the heavier fresh items we had that day. A couple weeks later she called me over, with huge smile on her face, to tell me that she just heard back from her doctor. Good news, she wasn’t going to need a round of chemotherapy and would be able to continue to make our distributions."