Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank annual meeting celebrates volunteers


Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank celebrated volunteers countywide and their accomplishments during its annual meeting March 21 at the Delaware Township Community Center in Fishers

Volunteers from food pantries throughout the county attended the event, which had a quilting theme: “The Fabric of Food Insecurity: Stitching together the blocks for a better future.”

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Three quilts made by the late Carol Bennett of Noblesville were donated to the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank for its fundraising efforts.(Photo by Leila Kheiry)

The food bank supplements supplies at individual food pantries by collecting and providing staples for distribution. Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Anita Hagen said that through their collective efforts, 120,237 meals were provided in the last year to county residents.

“These were all for families and children in our community. Yet another new one-year record,” she said,

According to the annual report, there are more than 24,000 food-insecure people in Hamilton County, where the average cost of a meal is $3.59, compared to the statewide average of $2.84.

Hagen said in 2022, they participated in the Hamilton County Community Food Resource Plan, with financial and strategic assistance from the Hamilton County Community Foundation.

The two-year plan, in its second year, has focused on developing strategies to support identified objectives, which are:

  • Support a data-driven results that focus on the countywide coalition of partners.
  • Ensure that pantries have access to the food they need to provide healthy food to individuals and families.
  • Ensure that food-insecure, school-aged youth in Hamilton County have access to food.
  • Ensure that individuals and families can access food-support networks regardless of race, place or identity.
  • Build the capacity of food-support networks to connect individuals and families to community resources.

The food bank participates in a free statewide app for people to easily find the closest food pantry. It’s called the Community Compass App, which can be downloaded from any app store. It also can be found online by searching for “Community Compass App.”

Hagen said the app is a living document, and is regularly updated as new information is submitted.

“This is so much easier for families than thumbing through the internet, calling me, calling you, or they just give up and get frustrated,” she said.

She noted that the food bank and pantries depend heavily on volunteers and donations. Regular food drives help fill the barrels with nonperishable items, and financial donations help them purchase food from local groceries and other food providers. With the arrival of spring, she added, they will take produce donations, too, and she encouraged gardeners to plant a row for the hungry.

“By working together, we provide warmth of spirit and nutritious food for all of us” she said.

Janet Gafkjen runs Special Projects for the food bank. She also thanked volunteers at the food bank and all the pantries. Those volunteers include warehouse distributors, community emotional support volunteers, shoppers, drivers and food-drive coordinators, and those who accept and distribute donated produce.

“It’s your great generosity, the giving of your time and your talents, that make that lasting impact,” Gafkjen said.

For more information, visit the nonprofit’s website at https://hchfoodbank.org.