Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers: Gleaners feeds families in need

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH ) — Since the pandemic began, hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves without work and many without a way to feed their families for the first time.

That need is putting a strain on food pantries who are trying to meet the increased need.

That is why WISH-TV is partnering with Gleaners Food Bank as part of our Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers campaign.

All this week, we will be raising money to help Gleaners feed Hoosiers in need.

Gleaners Food Bank is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more a week in order to meet the increased need in their 21-county service area. For families, having a resource like Gleaners assures them they will have good, nutritious food to put on the table.

Cars line up for miles every day to get their trunks filled with food for their families.

“I see this many people and I say, wow. I was surprised just because I didn’t know it was going to be this many people,” said Christina Rivera, who has been receiving food from Gleaners for three weeks.

Since the pandemic began, Gleaners has seen a 40% increase in people who need food assistance.

“My mom was laid off of work so she didn’t have enough money to actually go to the store and get necessities because most of the necessities were running out,” said Litcy Betancourt. She and her family have been going to Gleaners for a few weeks.

Layoffs have had a large impact on families across the state.

“I am a server myself, so yeah, I have been laid off since it began. So it has been hard a little bit,” said Zuleima Huerta, who has a family of five to feed.

Gleaners is working to make sure they can meet the needs within their communities but they need help to be able to sustain the demand.

“We really liked all the food they gave us. So we used all of that up and just decided to come back for the second time,” said Betancourt.

When people come through the line to pick up their food, often times they are not only getting food for their household but for other families as well who are not able to wait in the line.

“It is like we are helping each other throughout families and stuff,” said Huerta.

Families who are new to Gleaners’ services say they are surprised by the variety of food they have received.

“They had fruits, pastas, a lot of whole grain things. A lot of nutritious food for you to be healthy in a way still,” said Betancourt.

Gleaners is making sure that during these uncertain times, every family at least knows there will be food on the table.

“You are not, like, starving your kids or yourself and you have at least another little meal,” said Huerta.

Before the pandemic, Gleaners would feed about 500 families a day at their downtown location. Now they are seeing about 2,000 families a day, not including all of their other pantries and mobile sites.

You do not have to register or bring any documentation to take part in the emergency food program. You just have to show up.

WISH-TV’s “Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers: Fund Drive for Food” runs from May 1-8.

With the help of Gleaners Food Bank, Kite Realty/Kite Cares and Kroger/Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, your donations to the fund will help fill the Gleaners Food Bank.

How to donate

  • Text to donate: text GIVE to 317-593-2400
  • Online with a credit card or PayPal
  • Mail a check to:
    • Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
    • 3737 Waldemere Avenue
    • Indianapolis, IN 46241