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Hamilton County Volunteers Service Helps Feed Hungry Neighbors

This month’s column is about pantry food usage. Our mission is to provide no questions asked meals for neighbors that otherwise might go hungry. Presently, volunteers’ stock over 7,000 meals a month through forty-two central Indiana pantries. Our desire is to stretch those meals as far as we can and to as many families as possible. Rather than provide many meals for a few, we attempt to provide a few meals for many.

Feeding Team is a 100% volunteer organization with no paid employees. Our expenses are funded through personal and corporate donations along with our annual fundraiser, the Feeding Team Festival, which this year will be the afternoon of October 1st at Federal Hill Commons.

In addition to purchasing meals, food is donated by individuals, families, churches, companies, and other civic minded groups. Small amounts of food are donated directly into any pantry. Larger quantity donations are received by appointment at our office. What happens every week is a full circle of service where neighbors helping neighbors is the reality.

Inside each pantry are instructional signs, one of which requests that neighbors limit their choices to six items. Feeding Team’s “Take What You Need, Give What You Can” operating philosophy works very well when neighbors respect the boundaries.

For the past five weeks, “raking and taking,” our description for the behavior of a neighbor who takes most or all the meals from a pantry, has been widespread. The actions have been largely concentrated in seven pantry locations. The unfortunate consequence of the behavior is less food available for other hungry neighbors that stop by those same pantries. We have learned over the years not to chase these situations, reloading a pantry time after time typically results in more of the same behavior.

Feeding Team is a no questions asked charity. Neighbors can’t steal from a Feeding Team pantry; we are giving the food away. However, it is disheartening when a neighbor occasionally abuses the charitable intention of the model. The few times when neighbors take too much, we encourage them to connect with organizations that are better suited to serve them with more food over a longer period of time.

Through these experiences we learn to serve the community better. Publicizing information about pantry usage informs the neighbors who shop from and donate to the pantries how they can best serve the community. Thank you.

With over 27,000 food challenged neighbors in Hamilton County, www.Feedingteam.org provides outdoor 24x7x365 no questions asked free food pantries throughout the county.

Neighbors ask why do this, what is in it for you? The answer is always the same; serving people feeds the soul. It is a calling, not work. When criticized or questioned, I encourage people to learn my story before assuming anything. There were suppers when we as a young couple with young kids could only afford Dinty Moore Beef Stew and a potato for dinner. Surreal Moment. This is why the pantries exist, as a typical young family we could not always make ends meet.

Thank you for embracing the pantries. We love serving with so many neighbors across Hamilton County.

In future columns we will share more stories from neighbors about how your generosity served them in times of need. Be assured that the face of hunger in Hamilton County is not what you may think.

In practical terms this straightforward way to help neighbors is having real impact on lives, families, and our communities. Thank you. A few meals can change the course of a person’s life. A can of green beans means so much more when you have nothing to feed your kids. Would you like to get involved? We are in the process of evaluating our next pantry locations. If you think you have a potential location, please contact us. www.feedingteam.org facts – 46 pantries, 7,200 meals in March 2022, thirty volunteer families.

– Mark & Lisa Hall are the Founders of Feeding Team. They may be reached at lisa@feedingteam.org and mark@feedingteam.org or 317-832-1104