Unnoticed invisible Neighbors

By: Mark Hall

Visiting this week’s Hamilton County 4-H Fair, I couldn’t escape the fantastic aroma of Hoosier fair food. The smell of the burgers, pork chops, corn on the cob, the countless sweet treats like elephant ears, ice cream, and snow cones all made for a tough caloric experience. Thousands of us enjoyed meals prepared and served by charities, food trucks and civic organizations. The pageantry, presentations, exhibitions, animals, activities, and competitions all served to enhance the unique, high-energy nature of this year’s fair.

Yet, in the midst of all this bustle, just a few steps north of the “dunk a deputy” booth, there sits a lone yellow pantry. Hundreds walk by it every day as we experience the fun of the fair. And yet, concurrently, almost as if they were invisible, neighbors escape from the shadows, hide in plain sight and secure needed meals from that very pantry as it rests amid the excitement of the fair a mere few feet away.

I can’t prove it, being neither a physicist nor a magician, but I swear pantry shoppers must be invisible. How else can we explain the hundreds of items, unnoticed, being reduced to a few dozen in a matter of days? Unseen neighbors swiftly stop by, some donating, most taking a few necessary meals to get by. Hunger in central Indiana rarely manifests itself in emaciated bodies or visible signs of malnutrition. Hunger here in our neck of the woods is a silent invisible struggle that often goes unnoticed, causing those suffering to remain invisible to a majority of the population.

Realizing (seeing) the issue of hunger is a great first step to addressing it. The hungry in central Indiana are not invisible. They are our co-workers, coaches, peers, bosses, cousins, grandparents, delivery drivers, plumbers, programmers, and architects. Hunger knows no socioeconomic boundaries and it’s only invisible to those among us who are unwilling to see it. Information and communication begin to solve the challenge. In twenty years of food charity work I’ve often heard “we don’t have a food resource problem; we have a communication and food distribution problem.” Be encouraged, help a neighbor, together we can be part of the solution.

Greenie, last month’s guest columnist, made his way to a dinner table a mere three days after his article was published. As he left, he asked me to remind those that read this column to know that his sacrifice was not in vain, his cause was noble and that he hopes to be remembered not merely as a can of Green Beans from Canada, but as an example for all of us that together we are making differences in the lives of many of our neighbors. With over 44,000 food challenged neighbors in Hamilton County, www.Feedingteam.org is a registered 501C3 not for profit organization that provides outdoor 24x7x365 no questions asked free food pantries throughout the county. The pantries exist, to meet the food insecurity needs of GAP families, neighbors that may not qualify for public assistance and could use a few meals before payday. The pantries serve as many food-challenged neighbors as possible, and our hearts are with those that, like my family, could not always make ends meet.

Thank you for supporting the pantries. We love serving with so many neighbors across Hamilton County. In future columns we will share more stories about how your generosity served neighbors in times of need. The face of hunger in Hamilton County is not what you may think.

In practical terms this straightforward way to help neighbors is having a 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? Volunteer opportunities are available. We are evaluating new pantry locations. If you think you have a potential area location, please contact us. www.feedingteam.org facts – 54 pantries, over 10,000 meals in June 2023, over thirty volunteer families. Mark & Lisa Hall are the Founders of The Feeding Team. They may be reached at lisa@feedingteam.org and mark@feedingteam.org or 317-832-1123.

– Mark Hall is a successful businessman, husband, father and grandfather. He is serving his first term on the Hamilton County Council.