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Prior to Pack the Pantries, Gleaners Food Bank saw record-breaking demand



Indianapolis, Indiana – The amount of need that families are presenting to Gleaners Food Bank is breaking previous records. Almost 1,000 families were supplied by the food bank in a single day two weeks ago.

”Hunger isn’t a ‘them’ problem, it’s an ‘us’ problem,” said Fred Glass, the president and CEO of Gleaners Food Bank.

On the day of distribution, a long line of vehicles forms in front of Gleaners. The demand has just increased once more.

”We served 940 households in one day,” Glass said.

For the food pantry, that is a record-breaking amount, and it is roughly twice what they were producing prior to the outbreak.

According to Glass, the highest increase has been among those who never thought they would want assistance from gleaners.

”Essentially, the working poor,” he said. “Households that have at least one job, often times more than one job. They’ve never found themselves in line before.”

Gleaners is constantly seeking for ways to be more productive due to the high demand. An excellent illustration of that is the protein repacking room, which opened less than a year ago.

”In that year, we were able to pack almost one million pounds of protein,” said Nichole Louis, the Food Safety Manager at Gleaners.

Proteins that Gleaners would not have otherwise had access to, including chicken, bacon, sausage, and more.

“Most likely they would be either landfill or unable to go into the charitable food network,” said Isis Eynon, the Supply Chain and Business Development Manager.

The protein repacking facility repackages large donations—weighing anywhere between 40 and 2,000 pounds—into things that are suitable for families.

It is treated very carefully to maintain sanitary conditions.

”Everyone in the room has a lab coat, hair net, gloves and shoe covers so we are also protecting the food and keeping it safe as well,” Louis said.

The workers were repacking Tyson chicken on Wednesday.

”We’re packaging a lot of fresh items that are the exact same things you would get at the grocery store,” Eynon said.

Additionally, Gleaners engages in proactive work with the neighbors that drop by for assistance.

Every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, a resource room there connects people with heath checks, employment training, and other services.

“We want to meet the need and we want to do everything we can to help reduce the need,” Glass said.

According to Glass, giving money is the best method to assist Gleaners. He claimed that the food bank could turn a donation of one dollar into eight dollars’ worth of groceries.

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