New website encourages truck drivers to drop off rejected food to central Indiana food pantries

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Tons of perfectly good food en route to the dump will now be delivered to Hoosiers who need it, thanks to a newly launched website.

Boxes of red strawberries and crisp green lettuce were stacked into trucks at the Midwest Food Bank warehouse on the City's south side, Thursday. The fruit and vegetables are edible. They look delicious. But they were headed for the trash, because they didn't meet industry standards.

"The FDA tells us that over 50% of the food, especially perishable foods in America, are thrown away. And that’s perfectly fine food. A lot of it is just kept in the field, because it has one small imperfection," explained John Whitaker, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank.

He showed us bananas that were rejected because they weren't the right color ordered by the food distributor.

That's why Midwest Food Bank teamed up with Second Helpings, St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry, and the Indiana Motor Truck Association to launch a new website IndyFoodDrop.org so truck drivers can drop off rejected food to the nearest food pantry in Central Indiana.

"Rather than each hunger relief organization competing for donations, they will all be able to work together to bring in more food that’s coming through the state," said Kate Howe, Managing Director at the Indy Hunger Network.

Since Indiana is the crossroads of the Midwest, this website could bring in a lot of free donations.

“You’re driving down the road and trucks are in your way and you want to get around them. You don’t think that they could be taking that trailer to a food bank to feed hungry people," said Barbara Hunt, Vice President of the Indiana Motor Truck Association. She is helping to get the word out to IMTA members.

Indy has several food deserts so fresh produce and fruits delivered to the City every day is a game changer in helping to pack our pantries.

“The fact is, that’s perfectly fine nutritious food that someone has to take one berry out of and give it to a needy individual. They’re happy to have that," said Whitaker.

Right now the program and website is in the pilot stages and is only serving the 200 food pantries in the greater Indianapolis area. The goal is to expand the program statewide.