Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center ramps up services during pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A community center on Indianapolis’ near southwest side is doing what they can to keep up with high demand.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center to provide assistance to more and more families each week, and thankfully, they have received some support of their own to make that happen.

It’s called a neighborhood center for a reason.  

“They are hands in, from a distance,” said Jennifer Neer, the annual campaign manager for the center. “We’re just so grateful for them.”

It’s a great example of neighbors supporting neighbors during uncertain times.

“Especially right now in this situation that we are all facing,” said Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center President Clark Lienemann.

The doors to Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center may be closed, but their services are in full force.

The center typically feeds roughly 80 people a week. That number has climbed, and leaders expect it will continue to get larger.

“At this point on our Wednesday’s, we’re looking at anywhere between 160 to almost 200 people coming here,” said Neer.

Neer added that it’s all thanks to their food bank partners at Gleaner’s, Midwest Food Bank and the National Guard, along with many others. Prior to the pandemic, the center also received $5,000 to be used to support three hunger relief programs from the Kroger Foundation.

“It’s been challenging,” Neer expressed. “But it’s been really rewarding to see the community coming together and support our neighbors.”

The neighborhood center will use a portion of the funds to improve the quality of food provided during their weekly food market, providing fresh produce and meat on a regular basis to hundreds of people.

“Ensure these people are able to continue with healthy diets, their nutrition needs are being met,” Neer added.

Money was also set to fund a backpack and snack program for students, however, Lienemann says they’ve had to pivot their ideas as feeding hungry youth is more important than ever.

“We’re able to provide additional food,” said Lienemann. “They’re at home now 24-7, so any additional food that we’re able to distribute to those families and students is very appreciated.”

As weeks go on, the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center anticipates the need will grow.

“We’re better as a community when we’re all giving and helping one another,” said Neer.

The Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center food services is open on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. until supplies run out.

Click here for a link to other resources provided by the center.

According to the Neer, the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center serves nearly 5,000 families and individuals through basic needs programs through a weekly food market, monthly fresh produce and emergency food assistance.

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