INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (November 25, 2014) - Thousands of Hoosiers go hungry every day, but area agencies, organizations, churches and food pantries are working hard to make sure everyone has something to eat this Thanksgiving.
At Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana, about 500 homebound people are delivered meals each day. Volunteers are currently working to get Thanksgiving meals ready for many of those people.
“We have certain clients, more than 100, who were going to be alone on Thanksgiving - not have meals prepared for them, not have family or a friend or a neighbor who would be over there with them," says Barbara Renshaw, Communications Director for Meals on Wheels. "So we have special volunteers for just Thanksgiving Day who will be taking special holiday meals to these clients.”
However, Renshaw points out that there is a need for volunteers throughout the year, not just around the holidays.
“We deliver five days a week, Monday through Friday, all year long. We always need volunteers to help deliver our meals. We deliver about 40 routes a day, so that need is ongoing," she says.
Volunteer opportunities start at just one time per month, but Renshaw says, "People can do more if their schedule allows. It’s very convenient, close to your home or office, and it is a great instant gratification volunteer opportunity.”
There is also a small pantry for Meals on Wheels clients. Renshaw says people can help with food donations as well, but should contact Meals for Wheels first since most of their clients have strict dietary requirements.
At Midwest Food Bank, volunteers from University Heights Church spent Tuesday evening unloading trucks full of donations. Executive Director John Whitaker says the group comes every year. He says it's wonderful how people come forward around the holidays to help others in need.
“Usually around October, we can start to feel people calling wanting to volunteer," says Whitaker. "They’re thinking about family, thinking about the holidays, and they start to think about something other than their own needs. So what’s neat is people start to come together and start to think about their neighbors.”
When the holidays are over, many agencies and organizations see the number of volunteers drop off.
“Hunger never takes a holiday, so people are in need year round," says Whitaker. "Currently, there’s more than a million Hoosiers who are food insecure in the state, more than 300,000 children.”
Last year, more than 3,500 volunteers helped out at the food bank, but Whitaker says they could always use more.
“There is a great need and the need keeps growing, and we need more volunteers to come in and help us with that.”
He says sometimes people donate money instead, and that can make a huge difference in people's lives.
“We love it when people do food drives for us, and a can of food will help someone, but we can take $1, donate it to the Midwest Food Bank and turn it into $45 worth of food for a needy individual.”
You can contact Meals on Wheels at 317-252-5558. You can contact Midwest Food Bank at 317-786-8980.
If your family is in need of food assistance this holiday season, find a list of food pantries in your area.