GREENFIELD — Since the pandemic started, Hoosier families have continued to turn to hunger relief organizations.
The Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, which is located in Greenfield, serves more than 23,000 people every year. In 2020, they saw an 18% increase. However, most of the traffic was early on in the pandemic.
“There's no questions to ask you, just come in the door and you'll be given food,” Jill Ebbert, Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen’s executive director said.
Since November, Ebbert said the number of people they serve has decreased. She believes it has to do with the cold weather.
“I feel like there are people out there that really need us,” Ebbert said. “I don't know why they're not coming. I've tried to figure it out we've got gobs and gobs and gobs of food.”
Ebbert says they have now taken precautions inside the building including adding pop-up tents to allow people to wait inside to get their hot meals.
The soup kitchen’s dining room remains closed in an effort to follow the health department’s guidelines and keep staff members safe.
“Just the fact of keeping Covid out of the building is the biggest challenge,” Ebbert said. “We did have to shut down at Christmas time, one of my volunteers tested positive.”
In order to serve more people in need, the soup kitchen is now working with the New Pal Open 4 Biz campaign. It’s an effort to help support local businesses and organizations.
“They have a place to give food, hot fresh food away twice a day," Dave Meeker said. "They can't get the message out to the right people that need it."
Meeker is the owner of the Hancock County business Bringing Technology To You. He launched the New Pal Open 4 Biz campaign as an effort to keep businesses in New Palestine Open during recent construction on U.S. 52.
The effort has expanded during the pandemic. Now, Meeker wants to help businesses throughout Hancock County. He is helping the soup kitchen as a way to give back.
“The goal is to go to Hancock county and find out what other companies are out there that are struggling,” Meeker said.
Ultimately, Ebbert hopes to reach families in need, so they don’t have to make tough decisions like buying food and not paying for bills or medication.
“I don't want anybody doing that. We got the food we can help we can take care of that stress for them,” she said.
The Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's located at 202 E. Main St. in Greenfield.