INDIANAPOLIS — Gleaners Food Bank has received funding that will make it possible for the organization to expand its Indianapolis facility.
The money, more than $3 million, will be used for a 40,000 square-foot expansion of Gleaners' refrigerated storage capacity, making it possible to store more perishable food.
Funding is provided by the Federal CARES Act through the Indiana Department of Health and a $1.364 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
“Ever since the food bank was established in 1980, Lilly Endowment has been a champion of our mission,” said John Elliott, Gleaners President/CEO. “Lilly Endowment has consistently supported Gleaners as we implement impactful, strategic initiatives for long-term sustainability and to improve critical outcomes for our community and our partners.”
"When we moved into our warehouse in 2010, the 30,000 square feet of temperature-controlled storage space seemed more than sufficient,” added Elliott. “After the launch of the Produce Hope initiative in 2017, we increased the amount of fresh produce distributed in our 21-county service area by 90 percent in just two years. Our total food distribution more than doubled again from 42,275,951 in 2019 to 87,525,604 pounds in 2020. That would intensely strain the organization even without a pandemic.”
The pandemic has has had a dramatic impact on the need for food. Gleaners reports a 120-percent rise in the number of food-insecure households in its service area. COVID-19 has also caused what Gleaners described as a "massive disruption in food donation and distribution channels." The organization has also experiences a temporary loss of many volunteers.
As a result of the pandemic, Gleaners’ cooler has been overflowing and some trucks loaded with perishable items have been turned away in recent months.