Food bank partners with IMS, State Fairgrounds to provide fresh produce, meat to thousands

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana State Fairgrounds and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are usually home to very different events.

But starting this weekend, thousands of people are going to be fed at each as part of Gleaners Food Bank’s Mega Fresh Mobile food drive.

The month of May in Indiana is typically filled with large-scale events bringing people in by the thousands. Obviously, COVID-19 concerns have canceled or postponed all of those plans. However, these partnerships are making use of iconic places in Indianapolis to ensure sure the month of May still makes an impact.

This Saturday, Gleaners Food Bank kicks off its Mega Fresh Mobile distribution at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“Right now, we are going to transport almost a quarter-million pounds of food from this warehouse to the fairgrounds Saturday morning,” said Joe Slater with Gleaners Food Bank.

Then, just one week later on May 23, the Mega Mobile Food Drive at the Brickyard will take place at one of the most iconic landmarks for Month of May activities, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We are definitely not out there doing what we want to do and having fun and entertainment, watching racing, but we are still really reaching out to the community and helping people that need it,” said Slater.

In a statement to WISH-TV, IMS commented on the partnership, saying, “We’re proud to join forces with Gleaners to ensure Hoosier families keep food on their tables during such a challenging time. This food distribution is taking place on what would have been Legends Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While we certainly wish this year’s Memorial Day Weekend featured cars on track in the traditional sense, we’re thankful for Gleaners’ leadership and glad that the track can help provide a location for those in need to get some essential food items for their pantries.”

At both of these events, families will get three boxes of food.

“So we have built a 10-pound fruit box of assorted fruits. We have built a 5-pound meat box with assorted meats, primarily pork and chicken. And then a 20-pound veggie box,” said Slater.

Due to the increased need for food services and health restrictions, getting healthy food into people’s hands has been difficult.

“Cans and boxes into a box and get them into somebody’s trunk. It has been a little more challenging to maintain cold chain and get the perishable products distributed,” said Slater.

That is why these two events focus on protein and produce.

“We know that there is a need. There is a demand for it,” said Slater.

Crews are prepping boxes and filling trucks, expecting to feed up to 5,000 families at each Mega Fresh Mobile event.

“We will have to really quickly react to how it goes, what the numbers look like, how the process flowed,” said Slater.

Gleaners says that doing a mass event will be the best way to get this perishable food into the hands of those who need it the most.

“Just out of this location, so before the pandemic, would serve 300-400 households any time we are open. That number has jumped close to 2,000 on average,” said Slater.

The events will be first come, first served. For the May 16 event at the fairgrounds, enter off of Fall Creek Parkway, and distribution will take place underneath the grandstand. You can pick up meals from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For the May 23 event at the track, you’re asked to enter off 16th Street. You will drive into Turn 3, and distribution will take place under the Tower Terrace Grandstand. You can pick up meals from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.