BLOOMINGTON — Throughout the pandemic, local food banks and community kitchens have been a lifeline for people, many who found themselves needing help for the first time because of the impact of COVID-19.
Assistant Director for Community Kitchen of Monroe County Tim Clougher said his organization helps all, no matter their circumstances. Like everything, they've had to adjust how they usually do things because of COVID-19.
"Our normal dining in facility hasn't been open, so we've been doing carryout meals," Clougher said.
Their work goes far beyond their physical building.
"We started helping Meals on Wheels," Clougher added. "They had a waiting list of people that needed food. Hotels for the Homeless, we provided meals for them. We had a quarantine shelter for the homeless in Bloomington. We worked with Shalom to get meals to them."
With several community groups helping each other out, Clougher said it's important the community does their part to help in any way they can. For the volunteers who were there on Tuesday, what they give is their service.
"This is our third year being here in college. It's like our home away from home and it's really important to give back to the community," Alicia Pinchok, a junior at IU said. She and her friend Cassidy Stanage said they both plan to go into the medical field after college. Helping out at Community Kitchen is a natural fit for them.
"It has become more important for us to help people and because we're on that pathway now, this is something smaller we can do to help people in a different way," Stanage said.
On Monday, their school newspaper, Indiana Daily Student, ran a story featuring Clougher. Money on meal plans are set to expire on May 8. Before that happens, Clougher suggested students use their I-Bucks to buy food on campus to donate to food banks. It's something Pinchok and Stanage hope their fellow students consider.
In 2020, half of the people Community Kitchen served were children. Clougher said that should serve as a reminder: those are most vulnerable need help from those can give it.
"Even as people get somewhat back to normal, this need is going to continue so we're prepared for the long haul," he said.
Community Kitchen of Monroe County accepts donations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.