INDIANAPOLIS — As the pandemic rages on, more families than ever are turning to food banks, many of them for the first time.
Dawn Barnes is one of those people. The Indianapolis resident waited patiently Tuesday afternoon as volunteers loaded up her truck with food for her family. "I get the gratification of knowing I was able to keep my grandchildren fed as well as my children, even though they're grown," Barnes said. "So many of us are losing their jobs and really facing bad financial hardships."
Barnes' story isn't uncommon. Feeding America estimates those facing hunger will swell to one in six people, from 35 million in 2019 to more than 50 million by this year’s end. That stress on families from the pandemic has a ripple effect on those trying to help them, like Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
"There are far too many Hoosier families who find themselves in crisis now through no fault of their own," John Elliott, President & CEO of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, said. Elliott wants you to keep that in mind when you decide to donate money or your time: those you're helping were forced into situations beyond their control because of the virus and its impact on the economy.
"There's a medical recovery timeline and there's a much longer economic recovery timeline for families in need of help," Elliott said. He tells WRTV, during the economic crisis of 2008, need increased dramatically for two years and then took another four years to get back to a normal level. That's why with the pandemic, they don't know what to expect, they just hope people continue supporting their cause.
Despite the uncertainty this pandemic has caused, there have been some bright spots. Elliott says news of $600 stimulus checks being sent out brings hope for families struggling, and also for Gleaners.
"The first time the stimulus checks came out, all of a sudden, we're getting a flurry of donations, many of them from donors we've not received donations from in exactly that amount of the stimulus checks," Elliott said.
While that was a pleasant surprise, the need will far outstretch generous donations of stimulus checks. That's why Elliott is hopeful the community continues to give to Gleaners in the months and years to come.