INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Midwest Food Bank is working to lift the weight of hunger off people in central Indiana during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The workload has gone up substantially,” said Midwest Food Bank operations manager Jeremy Baynai. “There’s a lot of new needs, a lot of new requests, a lot of new programs popping up that we’re trying to help out with.”
Usually the organization is not running too low on help, but amid the threat of the coronavirus it had to keep many of its regular volunteers home for safety.
Meanwhile 10,000 cases of food leave the distribution center every Tuesday and Thursday. It also has a project with the Salvation Army that’s making 10,000 food boxes available for families in need, which will be delivered to local food pantries across central Indiana.
Despite the heavy load, the work keeps getting done and people at the food bank say it’s all thanks to some assistance from the men and women of the National Guard.
“The National Guard has been crucial to what we’re doing at a time when people need to be staying home socially distanced, we’ve been trying to keep a tight control of how many unique individuals are having to come in here,” Baynai said. “Having the support of the Guard day in and day out doing whatever is needed to get done.We would not be able to do what we’ve doing for the last six weeks if it weren’t for them.”
Twice a week volunteers pack and load food and drinks, using a five-hour window, to help feed thousands.
“When you’re here we work the people hard,” Baynai said. “Our volunteers work very hard when they are here serving.”
When the Guard volunteers do get their breaks, it helps to have a hot lunch waiting. The Mozel Sanders Foundation stepped in to deliver that hot lunch, courtesy of Michael’s Soul Kitchen in downtown Indianapolis. The organization, that’s usually known for feeding communities in the city during the holidays, jumped at the chance.
“We’re honored to serve lunch to our National Guard volunteers,” Ryan Holly said. “Barbecue chicken, sweet potatoes and cabbage and it’s all fresh and it’s all hot.”
Holly says the foundation considers it an honor to be able to feed people that are helping people by sacrificing themselves to assist others from the front line during the pandemic.
It serves as a token of appreciation from the community and a chance for them to have a comfortable break, before getting right back to the work they believe needs to be done.
“Those of us who are strong must be able to step out and help the ones that are weak,” Holly said.
Click here if you’d like to donate to the Midwest Food Bank of Indiana.