INDIANAPOLIS — About one in five Americans are turning to food banks now, according to a recent Consumer Report Survey. This time of year, many are hoping to share a meal with their family, but that can be expensive and difficult for some people hit hard by the pandemic.
Pantry 279 near Bloomington in Ellettsville, has been serving more people the last few months than ever before.
“When COVID-19 started in March we were at about 3,000 and 3,500 a month, and now we’re at about 6,500 people a month,” said Cindy Chavez, Director of Pantry 279.
The community food pantry is named after the Girl Scout troop that started it back in 2015. The 10 girls who dreamed it up, now in college, still come back to volunteer.
Normally the Thanksgiving meal distribution is around 1,200 families, but Chavez knew it would be much larger this year so she reached out to Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington for help.
Together the two groups distributed more than 2,500 meals over the weekend. “I’d say 50% of the people that are coming through now are people who never used pantries before in their lives,” said Chavez.
Troy Stickels drove through the pick up line with his mother who is recovering from COVID-19. Like many of the newcomers, Stickels lost his job due to the pandemic. He hasn’t been able to try to get another one because he’s been caring for his mom. “Right now I’m out of work and she’s on doctors leave so we’re doing it to help out. Kind of help make ends meet,” he said.
Stickels used to volunteer at Pantry 279 and was grateful to be able to benefit from the good work they do in his community.
Pantry 279 also does home deliveries for people who can’t leave their house. 500 meals were distributed to front doors the past weekend. The food pantry serves Hoosiers in 27 counties and after Thanksgiving, the need will continue.
If you would like to donate to Pantry 279, they are requesting monetary donations only to help with social distancing.
You can click here for more information and to donate.