Major food fundraiser on hiatus during 2017 holidays

GREENFIELD, Ind. - A large food fundraiser, aimed to feed Hoosiers over the holidays, will not continue, at least this winter season.

According to the founder of 40,000 Pounds of Giving, Carl Denny, the event started in 2005 in Shelby County. It then moved to Hancock County in 2008, where Denny would have a 53-foot semi-trailer in a parking lot, usually of a grocery store, to let people know where to bring donations.

A semi-trailer can haul 40,000 pounds at a time, according to people close to the event, hence the name. One year, a trailer was even put on Monument Circle and the food drive was held during the city's Circle of Lights.

“It filled our shelves," said Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen executive director, Jill Ebbert, which began her agency in 2009. "At that time, we had only been open two months and things were pretty sparse.”

After 12 years, the event brought in 550,000 pounds of food. At least one year topped 100,000 pounds.

Denny said PepsiCo located near Plainfield donated over 150,000 pounds of food and beverages to the event over the years, Ragu in Owensboro, Ky. donated nearly 80,000 pounds of sauce.

Ebbert said her organization has grown to become self-sufficient, thanks to other fundraisers, such as an annual dinner in April and a bowling event each August. This year, it began receiving weekly drop-offs from Walmart, thanks to help with Gleaners.

"That comes Wednesday mornings and that could be a thousand pounds of food.," Ebbert said. "That has helped replace what was lost, plus the community coming forward.”

A spokesperson at the Hancock Hope House and Meals on Wheels of Hancock County said they were also okay, despite the event not taking place.

Smaller agencies, like the Main Street Food Pantry in Fortville, have taken a hit.

“This way we are going to be a little short," said the pantry's manager, Lora Kay Wedgeworth. "I’m going to have to fall back on cash funds that we have."

The pantry runs through the Fortville United Methodist Church.

Wedgeworth said in the past she reached out to local schools to help stock shelves, and might do so again after the holiday season.

Some of the other agencies that took part in the fundraiser, included:

Denny said he moved to another part of central Indiana and couldn't get the event going this year, but was confident it would resume in 2018.

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