INDIANAPOLIS — Two days before Thanksgiving and eight months since the start of the pandemic, the line for food at the Indianapolis Urban League's weekly distribution spans several city blocks.
"It is insane. We know that this line is stretching all the way up West Street back up past St. Claire," said Tony Mason, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Urban League.
A line of cars both new and old paints sobering a picture of the need for help as Hoosiers battle a global pandemic. Mason said the food distribution began as a one-day event in March, but 32 weeks later a line still appears every Tuesday. So far the organization has given out 80,000 meals, according to Mason, who said long lines at drive-through food giveaways are the true measure of how well the economy is doing.
"You hear a lot of talk about the economy recovering, that's the stock market, that's not what's happening to everyday people who may not have gotten their jobs back or may not have gotten their wages fully restored," said Mason.
At the Urban League Tuesday, 700 families received multiple meals along with a Thanksgiving ham. Mason said eating on the holidays should not be added to anyone's list of concerns during a pandemic.
"Our hearts go out to families who are struggling and especially to families who maybe lost a loved one who will not be at their Thanksgiving table this year due to COVID," Mason said.
The Indianapolis Urban League has gone beyond just giving out food, its giving Hoosiers everything they may need for this winter season and that includes a free flu shot. "This year more than ever with COVID it is important to protect yourself from the flu and stay as healthy as you can," said Kim Lippelt of IU Health.
Whether it's a flu shot to protect your family or food to feed your family, Mason said his organization is here to serve. "We just want to make sure that we're doing our part as your urban league here in Indianapolis to help people who may be struggling and dealing with challenging times," Mason said.
The Food Drive at the Urban League will continue each Tuesday at 777 Indiana Avenue. The staff from IU Health says they will not be at the food drive next week and will instead give flu shots from IU Health's pharmacies located in their hospitals and at their urgent care locations.