By Rainey Biddle
Food insecurity is a term used to describe a situation in where a person does not know when their next meal will be or where it will come from. Food insecurity affects 15.6 million people, and of those people 3.1 million are children under the age of eighteen. In Indiana, one in seven people go hungry; that is 300,000 children.
Food pantries are a good option for anyone who is in this situation. A food pantry is an organization that distributes food directly to those in need. Food pantries get the food from donations and food banks. Food banks are non-profitable organizations that distribute food to charities and other organizations.
Great Harvest Food Pantry is located in New Whiteland. It has been helping the hungry since October of 2009. They serve 500 food pantries a month. They are open the second and fourth Saturday each month, but they do take emergency appointments throughout. They are a non-profit organization. All the staff are volunteers, meaning that they are not paid. All money goes to continuing helping feed the hungry. Great Harvest Food Pantry believes that helping the hungry is their mission, so they do not have restrictions on who they serve.
Gleaners is a food bank located in Indiana. They offer more than just food. They also offer cooking demonstrations and classes, vision screenings, and a medical clinic. They help on average 5,000-5,500 each and every month. With this many people to serve, help is crucial. There are a few ways to help and they include money donations, food donations, and volunteering.
Senior director of communication and digital strategy Sara Estell has been working at Gleaners for a year and a half. Volunteers are crucial for the process to go smoothly.
“We could not operate without our volunteers,” Estell said.
Even if your schedule is tight, there are still ways that you can help. People can get involved by helping collect donations, whether that be money or food.
Gleaners’ main goal is to assist those in need. With a priority as important as this, standards are low. For those curious of the requirements, there are few.
“Requirements vary by pantry. At Gleaners, the only requirement we have is that a person be an Indiana resident. We do not track identification or ask intrusive questions. Stated need, the person says they need food assistance, is all that we require. Some pantries serve only people in certain zip codes or have other requirements. Our goal is to serve the hungry with dignity,” Estell said.
WCHS counselor Shannon Fritz says that food pantries go far beyond just helping others get food, and that it creates a positive environment for those in need.
“I think they create a sense of community. Besides getting food, families may feel a sense that they are loved and cared for in this acceptance and unconditional support,” Fritz said.
Nearly 6.1 million households in the United States alone suffer from food insecurity. That means that one in six Americans suffer from hunger. One in six Americans have no idea when their next meal will be, or where it will come from.
“The number is always shocking to me because we consider ourselves to be a highly developed country and often think of poverty and hunger as something that happens in other countries or so called ‘third world’ countries,” Fritz said.
Many people are helped by food pantries daily. Volunteering not only helps food pantries, but also brings a sense of accomplishment to those willing. Volunteering is a great way to help your community.