Over one million Hoosiers face food insecurity. For the past 42 years, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with its 300 food pantry partners, work to make sure Hoosiers don’t go hungry.
Earlier this month, a group of Indiana Quadel employees volunteered to do the same. Fourteen employees spent three hours at Gleaners food pantry warehouse, the Cynthia H. Hubert Community Cupboard, located on the southwest side of Indianapolis.
Indiana Quadel employees assisted food pantry participants by directing pantry lines, stocking food supplies, and helping shoppers select their food items. Quadel PBCA Director and Indianapolis resident, Michael Adamson, was excited to continue Quadel’s tradition of giving back to local communities.
“One of Quadel’s missions is to help people obtain and live in affordable housing. After obtaining housing, food is the next basic necessity for survival for most people,” Adamson said. “Gleaner’s vision statement is ‘food for every table, hope for every future.’ It was awesome to see the immediate impact we were having on so many people. The smiles were priceless.”
Gleaners Food Pantry Manager, Lindsey Welch, has been the food pantry manager for over a year and a half. She stated the Community Cupboard serves 640 households each day the food pantry is in operation. This equates to nearly 2,600 families each week. For the four days the food pantry is open, around 50 volunteers are needed each day to cover stocking shifts.
Welch believes it’s important for local companies to volunteer in their communities at places such as the Community Cupboard.
“In my experience, bigger groups that come in (from companies) are more motivated to be here. They feel like they are here for a purpose and when they leave, it usually is ‘oh wow, we made an impact helping those neighbors.’ But, it’s super important to build those relationships because you never know where those relationships might go,” Welch said. “They could become regular volunteers, whether that be monthly, quarterly or yearly.”
Indiana Quadel Contract Renewal Specialist, Mark Burch, said he’s been wanting to volunteer at the Community Cupboard and was excited about the opportunity. Burch spent his day stocking freezer products, including bread, milk, eggs and produce.
“I liked that the work I was doing was so immediately useful. So many families came through that day, and I could see them receiving the items we were making available,” Burch said. “I was also surprised by how many different varieties of food were available, especially how many different types and brands of bread and bakery items. There was something for everyone.”
Welch stated the pantry gets its food from multiple sources. Gleaners purchases a lot of its food supply through USDA allocations through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Her goal is to ensure pantry participants have a variety of items, including meats and various types of produce.
Indiana Quadel Special Claims Specialist, Darci McWilliams, kept the dry goods stocked for pantry participants. She placed cans and other pantry items on the shelves and helped participants find the food items they needed. McWilliams said she has long-admired the work Gleaners has done to help hungry Hoosiers and said the volunteer experience made her realize how fortunate she is, too.
“Volunteering is a great way for employees to come together to help strengthen their community while giving back. It really made me think about the privilege I have to be healthy, have a dependable income, and a caring network of family of friends,” McWilliams said. “It broke my heart to see the steady stream of customers coming through the door during our shift, but I was proud to be a part of the process for food distribution that day.”