INDIANAPOLIS — Seven times in the last month, IMPD homicide detectives have launched investigations into eastside murders committed in the area in and around the Martindale Brightwood communities.

On Sunday, LaShauna Triplett of MLT Outreach Center rallied Warren Central High School football players to hand out the makings of Thanksgiving dinners to neighbors this weekend.

“We are feeding our community and the 46218 area we know is a food desert,” said Triplett. “A lot of times there are a lot of negative things. The youth are covered in the news in a negative way, but these youth have been out here since nine o’clock, picking up trash, serving food, so it is very important to highlight the positive things that are going on in our community so we can begin to change the narrative.”

A map created by the IUPUI Polis Center indicates 200,000 Marion County residents live in food deserts, communities where the closest grocery store is more than a mile away and experts say food insecurity leads to violence.

“This is a public safety effort,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett as he handed out food for holiday dinners at Gleaners where more than 800 families were served this weekend. “We might be able to have more places where food is available in more neighborhoods and particularly in those neighborhoods that suffer from being food deserts.”

Construction is underway at an Indy Fresh Market near East 38th Street and North Arlington Avenue in a northeast side community that is one of the most challenged neighborhoods for public safety.

“It means that those who live here can see that their community is not being left behind. It also again gives them hope. It gives them joy for the future and the hope for this area,,” said Pastor Kenneth Sullivan Jr. of New Direction Church. “I think that opportunities reduce crime and help to meet some of the challenges because many of the challenges and underlying issues are a lack of opportunity, a lack of resources so when those resources can be diverted to those communities that are underserved historically it causes it allows people to see hope and overcome the challenges.”

Gleaners President & CEO Fred Glass said his volunteers hand out food year-round in some of Indianapolis’ most safety-challenged communities.

“Hunger is medicine, hunger is crime prevention. It all fits in together,” said Glass. “There’s a reason why feeding the hungry is one of the most fundamental things we’re called to do and that’s part of the reason why we’ve partnered with the city in the summers we do mobile pantries in the highest crime zip codes in the city to feed folks in those particularly tough summer months.”

Mayor Hogsett said his administration’s anti-violence programs focus on quality of life issues in the fight against crime.

“There’s no question that when a family has enough food on the table, there’s less crime,” he said, “and there’s a direct correlation between family security, having adequate housing, adequate food, and staying away from things that get you in trouble like gun violence and the like.”

The MLT Outreach Center will hold another food giveaway Wednesday morning at ten o’clock at the Moorhead Community Outreach Center at 8400 East 10th Street.