By Zach Manges
Hunger in Hamilton County will be struck a major blow as Carmel United Methodist Church opens up a farmer’s market-style food pantry from 1 to 3 p.m. the third Friday of every month beginning on March 20.
The new arrangement is part of a joint effort with Gleaner’s Food Bank, which will bring its Mobile Pantry program to the church in an effort to serve up to three hundred more families a month with fresh produce, baked good, and other groceries.
“Gleaner’s was looking to find someone to partner with in Carmel. We’re part of the pantry network, so they contacted me and we thought it would be a great idea,” Carmel UMC’s food pantry co-coordinator Dave Coleman said. “It’s a real passion helping to feed the people of Hamilton County.”
The church has already been running a successful on-site food pantry available most days of the week except Friday and Sunday, and last year served nearly thirteen thousand people. Goods not claimed during the new Mobile Pantry will pass on to the church’s previously established supply. Families that making use of either pantry are required to provide proof of their residency in Hamilton County, but not financial information.
“The need is extraordinary. A lot of people don’t understand that,” Carmel UMC Communications and Media Specialist Rachel Ferry said. “The statistics are about eleven thousand children and twenty-seven thousand adults that we’re trying to help battle the hunger crisis.”
Carmel UMC hopes the same families who take advantage of their on-site pantry will be able to fill up their grocery carts with the new Gleaner’s program as well. The numbers are certainly troubling, with an estimated twelve percent of Indiana households struggling to put food on the table, but this partnership looks to make a dent in those odds.