IMPD testing new program to help families in need in east district

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new program is hoping to help families in need and build relationships in the Indianapolis community by addressing hunger.

The program is called Community Action Relief Effort (CARE) Bags program. Officers can give away bags of food to families in need while they’re patrolling or responding to calls as part of the program.

The city of Indianapolis is working with Gleaners Food Bank and IMPD on the program. It’s currently being tested in the east district and launched this week.

“You know serving the community is our job it’s not just arresting bad guys fighting crime. It’s also about making people feel better about themselves, helping out, doing what we can to make the community a better place for everybody,” said Officer Jeremy Torres, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Officer Jeremy Torres works in the east district. He said he handed out his first bag of food to a family in need while responding to a call.

“At first she was probably confused because you know this is the first time we’ve had a program like this before,” he said. “She was definitely very grateful once I explained to her what the bag was.”

Torres said it’s out on these calls and patrols where they learn about personal struggles and hardships.

“While speaking to the mother I found out she was a disabled marine. She had an 11 year old child and another going off to college, single mother” he said. “She was struggling, real nice, polite, but I could tell that times were hard for her.”

Torres said the direct access to the food allows them to help the families right away and not just a phone call away.

“You don’t see the results. You don’t know if the person actually called the number. You don’t know if the number that you gave them was able to help them out so to be able to present them with food and stuff, to help them out that night that day,” he said. “I mean that feels good.”

Each bag of food contains nonperishable items from Gleaners Food Bank. Torres said he can store the bag in his patrol car and restock as needed.

“Hopefully as the program continues on we’ll be able to lessen the shock and show the community we’re serious about helping everybody out,” he said.

24-Hour News 8 learned the program is an expansion of the CARE Mobile Pantry Program.

The president of Gleaners Food Bank said depending on the outcome of the pilot run in the east district, they’re hoping to expand the program city wide, to fire and emergency responders.

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