‘Can’t feed people virtually’: Local food banks in need of in-person volunteers

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INDIANAPOLIS — Food banks across the country are seeing an increased need due to the pandemic, but many aren’t getting the number of volunteers they used to. Nexstar, FOX59’s parent company, is helping fill that void as part of our way of celebrating 25 years of serving our community.

That includes volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank right here in Central Indiana.  

“Today we’re building family meal boxes,” said Daniel Klinestiver, a Gleaners warehouse associate. “This allows us to get a variety of different items to people quickly.”

Representatives from both Gleaners and Midwest food banks say the surplus food they rely on has become scarce, and their fleet of thousands of volunteers has dwindled down to less than a few dozen. 

Both were hit hard during the pandemic neither food bank is back to pre-pandemic levels. 

“You can’t feed people virtually, it takes hands and feet,” said Midwest Food Bank Indiana Executive Director John Whitaker. 

“People always ask me, ‘What’s the face of hunger look like?’ It looks just like you. It’s someone that’s fallen on a hard time, maybe lost their job, maybe they had an illness.” 

As things start to open back up, both food banks are asking for volunteers to come back.  

“We’re trying to meet that demand and we need our volunteers to do it,” said Gleaners Food Bank’s Manager of Community Engagement, Treva Burgess.

They say now that it’s summer, the need goes up even more.  

“There’s a lot of kids out of school that don’t have access to summer feeding programs through the local school systems and so we do see that uptick in need, but we’re also seeing a downtick in volunteers,” said Burgess. 

Earlier as part of Nexstar’s 25th anniversary of Founder’s Day, FOX59 crews volunteered at Midwest.  

“This is what I come to work for every day,” Klinestiver said. “I can’t put into words what it does for your spirit to see other members of the community come help those folks in need. It fills me with life, fills me with joy.”

One dollar provides five meals for Hoosier families. Your donation, of money or time, can make a significant impact in our community.

To learn more, click here.

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