Midwest Food Bank to send relief to hurricane victims despite pandemic hit

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INDIANAPOLIS — As storms barrel toward the southern states, Midwest Food Bank is gearing up to send supplies despite still feeling the effects of the coronavirus.

“We were really concerned if an event like this would happen,” explains Midwest Food Bank Executive Director John Whitaker. “We wondered how we would be able to respond.”

Early in the pandemic, the food bank was hit with the collapse of the country’s surplus food system as people stayed home. It forced them to buy food well beyond their yearly budget.

“We typically have a budget for about $100,000 worth of food purchases,” says Whitaker. “Right now we are purchasing $50,000 to $60,000 worth of food every week. We always need the help. What’s really beautiful is in proportion to the need, people have really responded.”

Thanks to donations from Eli Lilly and funding from the United Way, they are back on track. Whitaker says some Hoosiers even gave them their stimulus checks. Moving forward, supplies are ready to distribute to the Gulf.

“We have to wait until it’s safe to go in, so it’ll be a week before we start moving that product back down,” details Whitaker.

With the influx of donations, Midwest Food Bank added a second warehouse nearby that doubles their capabilities and allows them to distribute to disasters directly from Indianapolis instead of their other locations. It is about 75% full of goods right now, and it should be fully operational within a month.

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