Local co-op tries to stay afloat after giving away 100,000 pounds of food

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INDIANAPOLIS — The pandemic has been financially unkind to many small businesses in Indiana, but one local food co-op is trying to stay alive so they can be kind to others.

“For free we have given out over 100,000 pounds of food within a day’s time if you put the hours together,” said owner Odessa Wallace with a smile.

Indy’s Community Food Co-Op offers pickup and delivery groceries featuring fresh produce and products from local farms, small businesses and distributors. The items available show up on their website on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Customers can put together an order for delivery or pickup at one of their 10 or more pickup spots.

The sales go to keeping the co-op alive. Wallace says she has yet to make any money off of the endeavor for the past three years. She simply believes people deserve to have access to fresh, local food.

At the start of the pandemic, sales began booming as people were stuck at home.

“We grew to the need of the community insisted on us. We moved into this warehouse, and then when things opened up, everyone just forgot about us,” explained Wallace. “If you shop with us, you are supporting all the small businesses all at once that you order from.

“The people who can afford our program, it’s so important for them to shop with us so we have the space to do the community outreach.”

At the start of October, a friend of Wallace’s with Indy Hunger Network reached out to her. They had tons of food but lacked a place to store and distribute it.

“They needed someone to come pickup boxes, and I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, do you want to come? And, can you get these boxes? Can you connect them with people?’ We have a corporate account with Penske, and we got them to donate a big refrigerated truck, and we delivered them all over the city,” Wallace recalled.

After the first massive giveaway, Wallace began doing the same on her own. Combined, they have given out more than 100,000 pounds of food in the past month or so. They are now working to help 20 families have a Thanksgiving meal.

“We couldn’t do the outreach if it weren’t for all the donations that came in. This is all community funded, every bit of it,” said Wallace.

If you want to donate to their Thanksgiving cause, there is a place to do so on the website for Indy’s Community Food Co-Op.

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