Delivering to the community: Indy Parks and Recreation launches new food pantry at Riverside Park

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INDIANAPOLIS — About one million Hoosiers face food insecurity each day. Food pantries and programs across central Indiana are working to bridge the gap.

Indy Parks and Recreation also has ongoing efforts through partnerships with organizations, like Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Second Helpings, where they offer meal distributions and prepared food to residents who need assistance.

Although many of their efforts to address hunger in Indianapolis have been taking place for some time, they recently added a new food pantry to be held on Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. outside the Riverside Park Family Recreation Center.

“Initially, we started off with our after-school meals program, and we understood during this pandemic, not only do our children need assistance and additional resources, but the family as a whole,” said Indy Parks and Recreation Food Program Manager Tikilia Tinker-Martin.

She said at Riverside there are a lot of programs geared towards seniors, and this new food pantry has given them the opportunity to meet the needs of those seniors. She said a lot of them are on fixed incomes and have limited resources.

Tinker-Martin said this program helps reduce the possibility of someone feeling the need to choose between eating or paying bills or for medicine.

“We don’t want anyone to go hungry,” she said.

Tinker-Martin said they want people to know about this resource, offered every Wednesday with no end in sight.

“We are here, we are ready to serve, we are ready to meet the need of the community.”

She said even if you are unable to make it to their Wednesday drive-up food pantry, there are resources throughout the city and county where people can seek assistance.

“All throughout the City of Indianapolis there are opportunities that people just want to be able to assist us in moving from where we are, to where we want to be, and we need to encourage them to please come out,” said Tinker-Martin.

Over the past year, Indy Parks and Recreation said they have been able to meet the needs of more than 4,000 individuals in the community, and they hope they can continue to reach those who need their help.

“We know that it could be any of us in these situations, so don’t be ashamed. Come out, let us meet that resource for you, let us be that resource for you, let us meet the need for you and your family.”

The chain of giving doesn’t stop when the food makes it into the cars of those picking it up. FOX59 spoke with Willie Brown, who said he attends dance classes at the family center and afterwards picks up food to take to people in need.

“Most of us are able to get up and move around, but some people that we know can’t get out, so we’re here for them,” he shared. “A lot of people need help. Sometimes they don’t know where to get it or can’t go get it, and we’re able to so we just try to pitch in and help out.

“The fact that they are also helping out the community by sharing the food, it’s a big deal.”

If you’re interested in learning more about programs offered through Indy Parks and Recreation, you can visit their website or call 317-327-7275.

Indy Parks said it is also hiring for summer positions throughout its department, which can be found on the website as well.

With exciting events like a Farmers Market anticipated to begin at Riverside Park in June, Indy Parks and Recreation said it has a lot to offer in the months ahead.

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