Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Feeding America Launch Regional Produce Processing Center

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For a full gallery of images from the event click here.

• Initiative will offer Gleaners clients an improved selection and variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

• Immediate impact will be seen at Cynthia H. Hubert Community Cupboard, mobile pantries throughout the 21-county service area, including CARE Mobiles.

• Event held featuring keynote remarks by former Senator Richard G. Lugar and Gleaners’ President/CEO, John Elliott.

• Processing Center will serve 40 food banks in 7 states.

On Monday, May 1, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana celebrated the official launch of its new regional produce processing center.

Former Senator Richard G. Lugar, President of The Lugar Center, offered keynote remarks at a morning program attended by national, state and local dignitaries.

“My interest in food security began on my family’s farm located just a few miles from Gleaners in Decatur Township,” said Lugar. “I became more acutely aware of hunger issues during my tenure on the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners where I witnessed children in need who could not reap the full benefits of classroom learning and reach their potential when they were hungry and needed nutrition.”

Lugar toured the 300,000 square foot Gleaners warehouse with its President/CEO, John Elliott. “It was my honor to not just show our warehouse to Senator Lugar, but to have thoughtful and productive discussions about the changing nature of hunger relief and the impact of this produce initiative on the health and well-being of those we serve,” said Elliott.

Elliott touched on the evolution of hunger relief in his remarks to nearly 100 dignitaries and supporters at a morning briefing. “When food banks first began, they accepted loose cans of food at the back door and then sent those loose cans of food out to small neighborhood pantries,” he said. “Today, about 20% of the food we distribute is purchased, and we wish it was much higher.”

Purchased food is more efficient to store and distribute, and less costly to the hunger relief system overall. In addition, purchasing food allows food banks to better balance the nutritional value of food they distribute. To this end, Elliott emphasized the benefits of fund drives verses food drives. “ Not only would more cash donations and less food donations allow us to share meals at a lower per meal cost as we eliminate expensive operating costs and enhance food safety, we also would have more control over quality, food safety and nutritional variety,” he said.

Senator Lugar concurred. “Gleaners Food Bank provides a critical safety net in times of need, and I applaud the collaboration and activist vision of Gleaners’ leadership in tandem with Feeding America to provide Hoosiers in need with wholesome fruits and vegetables.”

The event concluded with the official ribbon cutting of a new 53 foot refrigerated trailer that will be used to distribute produce throughout Gleaners 21-county service area. The trailer was purchased thanks to a grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation through Feeding America. Following the ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed sack lunches donated by Sahm’s Catering.

The grant is part of the Morgan Stanley Foundation’s recently announced $8 million, four-year pledge to support Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks, and its children’s hunger and produce programs. Since the firm’s partnership with Feeding America launched in 2009, the Foundation has given over $21 million, including $250,000 to the Gleaners.

Event attendees included Jim Morris, Pacers Entertainment; Chuck Preston, Lilly Endowment Inc.; Ted McKinney, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture; Don Harris and Bill Thomas, Feeding America; Brittany Rayburn, Central Indiana Community Foundation; Nick Taylor, The Lugar Center; Kate Howe, Indy Hunger Network; and Emily Weikert Bryant, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry.

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About Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc.

On a yearly basis, hundreds of thousands of hungry Hoosiers depend on food and other critical grocery products provided by Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Gleaners supplies items to hunger relief agencies and schools throughout 21 counties in central and southeastern Indiana.

Gleaners was founded in 1980 and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. Since its inception, Gleaners has distributed over 320 million pounds of food and critical grocery products to over 200 hunger relief agencies serving needy Hoosiers. In addition to food distribution to hunger relief agencies, Gleaners serves our most vulnerable populations – seniors, veterans and children – through specialty programs such as the BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids, School-Based Pantry, Mobile Pantry, Summer Meals for Kids, and Senior Hunger Initiative Programs. To learn more, visit gleaners.org.

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