Food banks see record number of families in need during pandemic

Gleaners Food Bank.JPG
Posted at 5:22 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 15:13:38-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Local food banks are seeing a need like never before. Gleaners Food Bank broke a record on Thursday with the number of families coming to its meal distribution site.

Gleaners is one of the organizations receiving financial help from the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund. Donations to the fund are making a difference during this time of need.

There have been plenty of changes at Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The food bank has switched to a drive-thru model, temporarily suspended volunteers for safety reasons and they're working to keep up with a much higher demand.

"We saw lines form pretty quickly the last three weeks," John Elliott, CEO of Gleaners Food Bank, said. "I just saw a count and we are up a little over 72 percent."

The pandemic has caused a need they've never seen before.

"We have been trending about 400 households per distribution day," Elliott said. "Yesterday, we did over 2,100."

It comes with a hefty price tag.

"Last week and this week we have spent about $600,000 above our normal budget just to cope with COVID and it looks like it will sustain at that level for quite awhile," Elliott said.

Gleaners has just released a public service announcement asking for support and even though they've had some high-profile donations and support from the economic relief fund the need for help is still there.

"When you are spending $600,000 a week extra you need every donor and you need every dollar," Elliott said.

The one thing that won't change is the dedication to feeding families in need for weeks and months to come.

"We need to keep in mind that even when the medical recovery has occurred and the medical impact of the virus has passed the community, the economic impact to the families that have been struggling will not be," Elliott said.

You can donate to the fun by texting HELP2020 to 91999.