INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (April 15, 2020) – With food needs increasing in communities across Indiana, The Salvation Army is preparing to pack 10,000 boxes of food to help Hoosier families in need. Thanks to a collaboration between Midwest Food Bank and Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts is now being put to use as a food warehouse and food box packing center.
On Friday, April 17, volunteers from Midwest Food Bank and The Salvation Army, working side-by-side with Lucas Oil Stadium staff and Indiana National Guard members, will work to fill and prepare for distribution the first of the 10,000 food boxes.
The food boxes will be filled with shelf-stable items designed to help supplement the pantries of families who are struggling due to COVID-19 shut-downs. Those working in the service and recreation industries have been hit especially hard with loss of income due to restaurant, hotel, and entertainment venue closures. With more factories and businesses closing every day, families are feeling financial pressure unlike anything we’ve seen in the past decade. The demand on food pantries across Indiana has grown as more people turn to organizations like The Salvation Army for help.
“For many of these families, this is the first time they’ve ever had to ask for help,” said Major Bob Webster, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Indiana Division. “We’re hearing from our Salvation Army units across the state that food is the number one need in their community. Thanks to this great space at Lucas Oil and the bulk purchasing power of Midwest Food Bank, we are now set up to be the epicenter for food distribution to these Salvation Army food pantries and feeding programs throughout Indiana.”
John Whitaker, Executive Director of Midwest Food Bank, has devoted his organization’s efforts to meeting this increased demand. “The Midwest Food Bank is once again partnering with The Salvation Army during this significant COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “As The Salvation Army’s first responder across the United States, Midwest is able to procure and assemble family food boxes for rapid deployment, often within 24 hours of their call. These family food boxes contain enough shelf-stable food for a family of four for four to five days. We are very thankful to be part of a community where collaboration between relief organizations is the standard practice, especially in times like these. This is just another great example of Hoosier humanitarians doing what they do best.”
The Salvation Army operates in every Indiana county, but has had to close its community centers and halt programming during the COVID-19 crisis. In spite of this, The Salvation Army is continuing its social services, offering financial assistance to those in need of help with rent or utility bills. Traditional food pantries have shifted to drive-through distribution of pre-packed box, while large feeding programs have been converted to a “take-out” style hot meal distribution. The 10,000 boxes packed at Lucas Oil Stadium will help The Salvation Army sustain these food programs through the next several weeks.
The Million Meal Movement has also gotten involved in this statewide effort. The organization has a two-fold vision: feeding the hungry in Indiana and teaching the importance of volunteerism. Its meals, consisting of a shelf-stable, vitamin-rich, rice soy casserole, are hand packed by Hoosiers. These meals will be included in 5,000 of the food boxes, and will provide recipients with a nutritionally complete, easy-to-prepare meal that serves four to five individuals.