INDIANAPOLIS — Gleaners Food Bank is setting records for the need they’re seeing from families. Two weeks ago, the food bank served almost 1,000 families in a single day.
”Hunger isn’t a ‘them’ problem, it’s an ‘us’ problem,” said Fred Glass, the president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank.
Each distribution day, hundreds of cars line up outside Gleaners. Lately, the need has surged once again.
”We served 940 households in one day,” Glass said.
That is a record for the food pantry and approximately twice what they were doing before the pandemic.
Glass said the biggest surge has been among people who never imagined they would need help from gleaners.
”Essentially, the working poor,” he said. “Households that have at least one job, often times more than one job. They’ve never found themselves in line before.”
With so much demand, Gleaners is always looking for ways to work more efficiently. The protein repacking room is a good example of that, it opened just more than a year ago.
”In that year, we were able to pack almost one million pounds of protein,” said Nichole Louis, the Food Safety Manager at Gleaners.
Proteins like chicken, bacon, sausage and more that otherwise would not have been available to Gleaners.
“Most likely they would be either landfill or unable to go into the charitable food network,” said Isis Eynon, the Supply Chain and Business Development Manager.
The protein repacking room takes bulk donations from 40 to 2,000 pounds and repackages them into family-sized items.
The sanitary conditions are taken very seriously.
”Everyone in the room has a lab coat, hair net, gloves and shoe covers so we are also protecting the food and keeping it safe as well,” Louis said.
On Wednesday, the workers were repacking chicken from Tyson.
”We’re packaging a lot of fresh items that are the exact same things you would get at the grocery store,” Eynon said.
Gleaners is also doing proactive work with the neighbors who stop by for help.
It’s resource room every second and fourth Wednesday of the month helps connect people with healthcare screenings, job training and more.
“We want to meet the need and we want to do everything we can to help reduce the need,” Glass said.
Glass said the best way to help Gleaners is to make a financial donation. He said the food bank can turn one dollar donated into eight dollars worth of what you would get at the grocery store.