INDIANAPOLIS — Local food pantries are in desperate need of volunteers through the holiday season and the pandemic. This year has put many people in tough situations, needing to utilize food pantries for the first time to feed their families.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, you can spot Rita Arnold volunteering at the Midwest Food Bank. “If you come here for the first time, you will want to come back,” says Arnold.
One of their most dedicated volunteers, she’s been volunteering at the Midwest Food Bank for nearly six years. “Well my husband and I both are retired now and we were looking for something to do together,” says Arnold.
Arnold says it’s her faith that motivates her to serve. “Midwest is faith-based and a lot of the agencies that we serve are also faith based,” she says. “So it’s a very holistic approach. We don’t just serve people food, but we also give them hope.”
Midwest Food bank distributes food to over 300 agencies, covering 72 counties across the state.
“They’ll offer childcare, or counseling, or job training, or addiction recovery. So within those 300 agencies, there’s a ton of people that are being helped through Midwest,” says Arnold.
The food bank tells WRTV the need has dramatically increased because of the pandemic. They’ll end up giving $50 million worth of food by the end of the year — which is double from last year.
But Arnold says, whether because of COVID or not, the need is always going to be there. That’s why she does what she does. “Unfortunately, we are always going to have people who are food insecure, whether it’s because of loss of a job or it’s because of a single parent or whatever, illness. You’re always going to have seniors who are trying to decide whether to buy medicine or buy food,” she says. “So the need is always there. And I’m just glad that I can be a small part of it, so that down the line, those people can be helped.”
The Midwest Food Bank says they have a strong need for corporate volunteers, hoping companies would bring in a large group of employees for perhaps a service day.
COVID-19 has forced some restrictions on who can necessarily volunteer, but they love to partner with different companies to fulfill their mission.