The coronavirus pandemic has created issues for food pantries Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County Executive Director Nancy Chance never expected to see.
GSN is a collaborative network of nonprofits in Hamilton County, including 45 food pantries.
“We have 4,000 blue-collar and white-collar workers out of work who have never visited our pantries before,” said Chance, a GSN founder and Noblesville resident. “There are a lot of people that lost jobs (recently) that never lost jobs ever. We’re in a situation we’ve never been in. We have more than 6,000 families we take care of with our pantries right now. We need money to help us keep going because this is going to go for another month, at least, and maybe longer.
“We’ve been proactive ordering food six weeks before the pandemic hit because we knew it was coming.”
Chance said GSN, which coordinates the Community Organizations Active in Disaster emergency services network, said the pantries must restrict in-kind food donations due to concerns about the new coronavirus.
“We are working off donations we would be using for the rest of the year,” Chance said. “We have a budget but we’ve way exceeded that budget. I have to make a plan or the backpack program doesn’t keep going and those kinds of things. I’m impressed with the spirit of the people but we haven’t seen an increase in giving yet.”
Chance understands the uncertainty.
“People are afraid for their own families,” she said.
A recent $50,000 pledge from the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund will support various community programs through Community Organizations Active in Disaster and GSN to help the community in crisis.
In addition, the Hamilton County Community Foundation, along with the support of the community, established the Hamilton County Crisis Response Fund. According to a press release, the flexible fund will provide much-needed resources to nonprofit organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with essential services while they are experiencing financial challenges in meeting need.
The foundation will issue quick-turnaround operating grants, which will focus on organizations that work with the elderly or infirmed, youth and economically vulnerable populations. Selection will be completed by HCCF staff and board in partnership with the Hamilton County Community Organizations Active in Disaster executive committee. Nonprofit organizations that meet the criteria can visit hamiltoncountycommunityfoudation.org/covid-19 for information.
Visit GSNLive.org for information about donating to the Good Samaritan Network, which will distribute support to its COAD agencies.
Hamilton County Tourism, Inc. is hosting a #LoveHC platform to rally support around community organizations, local businesses and government during the pandemic. For more, visit LoveHamiltonCounty.com.