INDIANAPOLIS — At Midwest Food Bank, it’s another day of all hands on deck and working together to help feed hungry Hoosiers.
Marcie Luhigo, Midwest Food Bank’s executive director, said the need is only rising among its partner pantries.
“Some of the pantries are saying the rise is 25 percent,” she said.
As inflation continues to rise, impacting the costs of necessities, like food and gas, families throughout the state are turning to food banks and pantries for relief.
Meanwhile, those same agencies, like Midwest, are also feeling the pinch.
“We are paying now $500 more per fill up,” said Luhigo. “When you multiply that over a month, and possibly several months this year, that’s a lot of costs that we didn’t budget for and didn’t expect.”
“We obviously budget for what we would consider normal, incremental increases in fuel,” she added, “but right now, this is just something that we’ve not seen.”
Gleaners Food Bank has its own filling station for its fleet of trucks that deliver and pick up food across its 21 counties. Just last week, organizers said the cost to refill was significant.
“What we paid last week was $20,000 more than what we paid a year ago at the same time,” said Treva Burgess, manager of community engagement. “Every dollar that we have to spend extra on something like that, that’s a dollar that we’re not able to put towards food.”
Gleaners, like Midwest, is also trying to deal with the rising costs by cutting corners and stretching dollars where they can.
“When inflation, and when the increased gas prices, the increased food prices, are affecting people at this level, it’s also affecting our abilities,” said Burgess.
Every year, CBS4 partners with Gleaners and Midwest to “Pack The Pantries”, showing the need, firsthand, of Hoosiers needing help and the impact these agencies have in providing it.
Thursday and Friday, our station chose to partner once again with both organizations as part of our corporate parent’s Founder’s Day of Caring, which celebrates 26 years of its service. The annual tradition allows our station, and sister stations across the country, to commemorate the occasion by volunteering with local charities of choice.
On Thursday, our volunteers helped sort and scan more than 2,000 food items at Gleaners. Organizers said the total amount of work done Thursday will help provide more than 4,500 meals to the community.
Friday, Midwest Food Bank shared volunteers helped repackage 3,300 pounds worth of snacks and prepared 1,500 Hope Packs, or meal kits.
Organizers said the totals are a reminder that it takes a village to help our communities thrive. Gleaners said that’s especially true during the summer months as more volunteers are needed to help service their mobile distributions.
“We use more volunteers in the summer than we do any other time of the year,” said Burgess. “Where we might say use 300 or so volunteers a week just for day to day operations, during the summer it’s a little bit higher.. Maybe closer to 400 volunteers a week are needed.”
To get involved, Burgess said it doesn’t have to mean just volunteering or donating, you can also advocate by spreading the word on social media.