For the first time, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana is helping direct its own food pantry.
Gleaners, a popular distribution network that provides local nonprofits with a reliable source of food, has partnered with Duke Reality and Monarch Beverage to open a pantry on the Southwestside.
The Southwest Community Cupboard opened last week to provide emergency food assistance to Decatur and Wayne townships' residents.
"We have never done this before, so it is historic," said Pamela Altmeyer, Gleaners president and chief executive officer. "It is an experiment that we felt was needed on that side of town because it is an underserved area. We are hopeful it will be successful."
Duke Reality provided a construction trailer to house the new pantry in front of Monarch Beverage, 3737 Waldemere Road. Gleaners will provide the food, and Monarch will provide a staffer and other volunteers to keep the location open four days a week.
Chesnae Lacey, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis student who is staffing the pantry, said nine shoppers obtained canned goods, juice, flour, sugar, fabric softener and other essentials within the first two hours of operation Saturday.
Lacey, 18, whose grandparents instilled in her the importance of community service, wanted to be part of the pantry.
"I really think it is a wonderful opportunity to see what people are going through and the hard times they are facing because of the economy," she said. "People who have stopped in have told me they are really glad to have this here so they no longer have to travel a long distance to get food."
Though Decatur Township already had seven pantries, Altmeyer said residents there still aren't adequately served especially during these down economic times when more people need food assistance. Many of those pantries are only open a few hours a month, and Altmeyer found the variety of foods there lacking.
Though she is excited about the new endeavor, she doesn't expect it to become a trend.
"If we find pantry partners that are already meeting the needs in the ZIP codes in most need, we won't do more of this," she said.
The pantry is intended to help Decatur and Wayne townships' residents who are 18 and older and meet certain poverty-level criteria. For example, a family of four must have a monthly household income below $2,915.
Article by Josh Duke Indianapolis Star
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