Lucas Oil Stadium open doors to major food banks during COVID-19 pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A place typically used for sporting events is being turned into a new hub to store food for several major food banks.

The number of Hoosiers in need of food during the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just doubled in some parts of the state, it’s tripled.

“We were trending about 240 to 400 households per distribution day at this onsite pantry at the Gleaners warehouse. Yesterday, we set an all-time record of 1,349, so somewhere around three and a half to four times the normal volume,” Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana CEO John Elliott said.

The increase in numbers mean major food banks like Midwest Food Bank had to get creative with the way they store all the food coming in.

“We have normal relief, which is feeding relief, which we do in the state, which is about 90,000 people or $40 million a year. We have matched that with disaster relief or pandemic relief,” Midwest Food Bank Executive Director John Whitaker said.

Parts of Lucas Oil Stadium are being dedicated as a place to store food for Midwest, the Salvation Army and Second Helpings.

Volunteers and the National Guard will pack food at the stadium and send it to area pantries.

In a few weeks, they plan to have about 10,000 food boxes ready to give to area pantries to distribute.

“There’s no competition, there’s no attention getting behavior. We are simply rolling up our sleeves and focused on serving our neighbors however we need to,” Elliott said.

Elliott explained that their distribution site is big enough to handle the extra people and food coming in, but they’re working with places like Midwest to help feed Hoosiers.

In the event someone at Gleaners falls ill from COVID-19 and they shut down services, Elliott said they will turn to the folks at Lucas Oil to help meet their demand.

Food banks want Hoosiers to be reassured they won’t go hungry, even if they have to take over the Colts’ territory.

“Hoosiers give hope. When it comes time for Hoosiers to step up, they have stepped up in a really great way to help their neighbors,” Whitaker said.

For more information on how to get involved or donate, check out Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Midwest Food Banks websites.

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