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Indy food bank says it has seen 200% increase in families picking up food in 2020

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana officials said they have seen more than a 200 percent increase in families picking up food this year. It is yet another sign that 2020 is ending with a lot of people in need.

“It breaks my heart,” said Erin Kremer.

That’s how Erin Kremer feels as she sees car, after car, after car pull up. Erin and her husband Dave started volunteering at Gleaners after the pandemic started.

“My first time volunteering was last month. You know, during the pandemic with so many people in need, as a family we all talked about how can we help? How can we help?” Erin asked.

So she and her husband spent their day off work, giving back.

“We just have to help each other and support one another,” said Erin.

Gleaners said from September 2019 to September 2020, they distributed 207 percent more food than the same time period a year before. That’s around 87.5 million pounds of food to just under 70 million families.

Gleaners sees 1,400 to 2,500 cars come through its garage daily and those numbers don’t even include the last few months.

“It is heartbreaking to see the need and to see that 40 to 45 percent of those in line have been in line for the first time,” said John Elliott, the President and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. “Why nationally has there been a 50 percent increase in and in Indiana it is double?”

Elliott said that’s partially because Hoosiers have more hourly wage households and in Indianapolis the need is even greater.

“We have seen far more than double the need in Marion County, many of our distributions are four to five times as larger than the year before,” said Elliott.

Gleaners said going forward, less government funding to food banks means a possible $5 million gap in their food budget every three months. Even when the pandemic ends, this need will not.

“We are years away from the end of the economic impact on the families Gleaners serves,” said Elliott.

Volunteers like Erin said the pandemic pushed them to help and that we can all take away kindness from this year. The year 2020 teaching people to do better, help more and make a difference however they can.

“I just hope that we all take some of the lessons we have learned in 2020 into 2021,” said Erin.

People who want to help make a monetary donation or volunteer, can find out more information here.