We need your help.
Over the last six months, we have been blessed with the presence of the Indiana National Guard in our facility and at all of our Tailgate Distributions. This amazing group of approximately 30 individuals has come mostly from central Indiana. They have been here Monday through Friday doing much of the heavy lifting to allow us to provide incredible amounts of food to thousands of families each week. One only has to observe for about 30 minutes to be thoroughly impressed with the commitment and execution of assignments by these dedicated folks. Their focus and efficiency get things done. We have had some relatively new soldiers to seasoned veterans with considerable rank in the mix. We have also had multiple visits from several levels of the state command to discuss and observe the soldiers in action. It has been my honor to have had the opportunity to spend some time with them, learn something about them in their civilian life and their plans to continue their military career.
Sadly, this deployment is ending at the end of September.
When the National Guard arrived the first week in April, we were in very sad circumstances with our operations, let alone try to meet the increased need. Our staff in the building was down to almost half as several were working from home or were quarantined. We had two warehouse workers and one truck driver that was still able to come to work. Our office staff was very thin as well. Those who were here spent partial or full days packing food in the warehouse. Saturdays had been mandatory for a while and Sundays were optional although many were here as well. At our lowest, we had 10 people here which was 22 before March, along with a full complement of daily volunteers. We had to eliminate volunteers in the building during March, so we were on our own to make it happen. When 30 soldiers arrived, who were here to focus on the labor of what it takes to get this work done; wow. Our plans and results were immediately impacted.
Beginning in April, our food distribution jumped from 162,000 meals per week to 400,000 meals per week. We have maintained that level of food assistance in our eight counties for the last six months.
Going forward, we need to now fully engage all our communities to locate volunteers, both groups and individuals who will once again come alongside us to allow this effort to continue. If you visit www.curehunger.org and click on Volunteers, we have an effective volunteer registration software system called givepulse that allows you to pre-register as a volunteer or for your group to be scheduled into our warehouse activity or at one of our Tailgate Distributions. Email Kellie Arrowood, volunteer coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765-287-8698 ext. 100.
We are currently scheduling people in our warehouse Monday through Friday and at out Tailgate sites in every county. Safety protocols have been put into place that will allow for a safe environment. We need to secure volunteers to be able to continue our present level of food assistance. Since April, the need has not dropped, but has increased. In our Tailgate Distributions alone, we are reaching over 24,000 families every month. With your help, thousands of families will feel the impact of a caring community.
Tim Kean is the president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 95-member agencies, programs and 35 schools provide relationship building and food assistance to more than 65,000 low-income people facing daily instability in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash counties.