The Rebound Indiana: West side food pantry working to meet growing need and inspire a community

Volunteers serving community at The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House
Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 08:09:33-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — A food pantry on Indy's west side is helping meet people's needs and share the pantry's story to inspire the community.

The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House was founded on the corner of North Elder Avenue and West New York Street back in 2006 by Lucious Newsom.

Newsom was known as the "Beggar for the Poor" as the Tennessee native in his signature bib overalls would stand on street corners, the back of a van, a bait shop, and more begging for food for his poor neighbors.

He dedicated the food pantry to his close friend, Anna Molloy.

Molloy was a young girl bound to a wheelchair from a rare form of dwarfism. The two unlikely characters formed a beautiful friendship where they shared ideas and dreams.

Service to the community and the poor was the foundation of their friendship.

"Anna was my daughter," Julie Molloy said, who still works at the pantry today.

She reflects on her daughter's special friendship with Newsom.

"If a little girl in a wheelchair with a trach and mechanical ventilation could be here serving, none of us have an excuse to serve, somewhere," Julie said.

Unfortunately, Anna and Newsom passed away in 2008 just days apart, but their spirit of service continues today at The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House.

Their mission is being served out during this global pandemic as they are seeing more neighbors in need.

"We're a pretty small place trying to make a big impact," Julie said. "And you know, I would like to say that the need of the community is diminishing but it's not, and we are seeing more and more families every week that are coming from outside of the area."

Julie says she misses the human interaction and hugs from children, but due to the pandemic, out of an abundance of caution the pantry has moved to an entirely drive-thru method of food distribution outside of their building,

"So our families drive up," Julie said. "We load their car with as much as we possibly can."

Julie says they focus primarily on fresh produce, meats, breads, and then other items for the families. They serve more than 200 families consistently each week, more during the pandemic.

"We have been blessed to have raised all of the funds needed to have a walk-in cooler and freezer unit added to Anna's House," Julie said. "This has been such a help to us as we have been receiving USDA boxes for distribution to our families. We have seen an increase in those seeking nutritional help and with the cooler/freezer, we are able to bring additional foods to help those in need."

They also work to connect families outside of their community who come for help to resources for food closer to their homes.

Julie says she is inspired each week by the families in need who also come and volunteer at the pantry with food distribution, unpacking boxes, and cleaning the facility.

Pictures of Anna and Newsom are still on the walls of the pantry reminding people who come of the pair of friends who cared for the poor of Indianapolis. It is an image Julie says we could be reminded of even today during the racial unrest in our country.

"Together they were serving a community and the two of them just built this crazy little friendship," Julie said. "He was just like this, he was this huge Black man in his bib overalls because that was his signature he wore bib overalls, that just had a love for everyone. And Anna was this teeny tiny thing. Her medical condition dwarfed her so she was tiny and she was in a wheelchair and it was like polar opposites of people. You had big and little. You had Black and white. You had young and old. But they didn't see any of that in one another. They just saw here's my friend, here's somebody I can work alongside and make a difference."

In this time of great uncertainty and unrest in our communities, Newsom and Anna can be looked to as an inspirational pair as to our purpose here.

"I think if we stop looking at ourselves, and looked outwardly, we would truly see who people were," Julie said. "They didn't define people as anything but God's creatures."

During the early days of the pandemic, the pantry had to close their volunteer portal due to safety concerns. That portal is now back open and they are always in need of volunteers.

Volunteers wear masks and gloves when handling food and they work on sanitizing the pantry on a frequent basis to keep volunteers safe.

They also have a supply of food donations thanks to COVID-19 relief programs and dollars, but Julie says they will continue to need donations to be able to serve this growing need, especially as relief programs end as we rebound from the pandemic.

She says one of the best ways to help them is through their Anna's Angels giving program where donors contribute a monthly amount, which helps the organization set their budget.

If you want to volunteer or donate, visit its website.