MUNCIE, Ind. - A drive-through food pantry won't resume for Delaware County residents until a new location for the program can be found. City officials and leaders at the Second Harvest Food Bank have already started looking for a new location for host the tailgate program.
According to the food bank's website, it serves residents in eight counties around east central Indiana with at least one tailgate program for each county per month.
The drive-through program, which brings two million pounds of food to people annually, meets people in the communities where they live. Volunteers load up each vehicle with food for families to take home.
For roughly seven years, the Delaware County location was at the old Borg Warner plant parking lot.
On Thursday, the food bank held its last tailgate there, as the property was leased to a new tenant at the start of the month.
Volunteers went on to leave notes with each family, that read as follows:
“This will be the last tailgate and this location and postponed until further notice. This location has been leased to a business effective April 1st. We are in conversations with the city administration and local landlords to secure a new permanent location for this Delaware County Tailgate program. Stay tuned for updates for a new location and start date on our website, social medial, and all local media outlets.”
The owners of the Borg Warner complex have graciously allowed Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana to operate the Tailgate Program at this site and serve our food insecure neighbors since 2011 when McCulloch Park was unable to meet the program’s capacity. Tim Kean, President and CEO, stated, “We are searching diligently for a new location with the suitable size and traffic flow to allow this program to resume as soon as possible.”
City of Muncie community development director Terry Whitt Bailey said she hoped this would be a very temporary issue.
“We can’t allow it to be permanent," she said. "I want to call it a hiccup. This is a short hiccup and our job is to find a space in order to help them because they help the people in our community."
The food bank advised the people it help to rely on food pantries around the community until a solution is found.
At BNF Ministries, the founder welcomed the chance to help more people while Second Harvest searched its options.
“I believe last year we distributed through our pantry over 70 tons of food," said Bob Ball, a founder of BNF Ministries. "We did that once a month and we anticipate that this year that will go up. With this shift, it may go up significantly more. We are going to do everything we can to accommodate the situation because of the shift in ownership out there. We’ll be glad to do whatever we can to take it to the next level.”
Ball said his organization has gotten food from Second Harvest for more than 23 years, and the two have had a great partnership. So being called on during a time of need is not a big deal.
“We’re always going to do our part in the bigger picture," said Ball.
Besides a food pantry, which opens one Wednesday a month between 3-5 p.m., the organization also has ties to Inside Out Community Development Center, which offers free hot and healthy meals to children Monday through Friday year round. The children come from a variety of agencies in town, with close to 300 being served each day.
It also serves a meal at its N. Madison Street location each Saturday.
Ball said all the programs could see additional folks if a solution isn't found quickly.