Pack the Pantries: Distribution day is a big day for volunteers at Midwest Food Bank

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Tuesdays and Thursdays at Midwest Food Bank are known as the day food is shipped out. The food bank serves more than 320 agencies in the state, which means distribution days are some of its biggest days for volunteers.

On any given distribution day, there will be 30 to 40 agencies stopping by in their trucks and vans to haul off food to their offices. Agencies partnered with Midwest Food Bank come from 60 Indiana counties.

On Tuesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett took part in helping volunteers.

"Being food insecure has so many consequences behind hunger and that is what the administration in cooperation with our social service and charitable partners has been trying to do," the mayor said. "So they do have decent, affordable, nutritious food but how that translates into better outcomes for our children, for their educational opportunities, for the choices our children make because we want to stop the cycle of multi-generational poverty that closes down opportunities for our young people to live productive, and faith-based and important, meaningful lives."

According to Hogsett, one in five people in Marion County live at or below the federal poverty line and one in three children in the county are born into a family that is at or below the poverty line.

Midwest Food Bank executive director John Whitaker said it takes a team effort from the community to keep food banks operating.

“I always tell people there are four things people need to start a food bank," he said. "Food, funding, folks and faith and the folks are a big part of that.”

There are plenty of folks lending their helping hands on Tuesdays and Thursdays and throughout the year.

"We only have six employees here, so we have over 2,500 different individuals who helped us last year.”

Volunteers come from all walks of life and have their own reasons for helping out.

"I’ve watched the food bank grow from 35 agencies when I first started eight years ago to over 300 agencies now," said volunteer and retired school teacher Ann Rounds.

Ed Boda has been volunteering for six years.

"The amount of food I see come in is amazing," Boda said. "Right now our isles are super fool and sometimes they are super empty but it keeps coming in because God provides.”

Some volunteers are giving back their time, in part, because they receive food thanks to the food bank.

"There are 12 men here that are in a program to help them with addiction now they come every month, every other Tuesday," said Whitaker. "We also supply food to them.”

Those dozen volunteers come from the Saul to Paul Ministries out of Ellettsville.

"There are lots of guys in our program and we’ve all not lived very good lives so here is a really good chance for us to come help out," Austin Vuke said.

The food bank also received a $20,000 donation from Kaleo.