Community rallies to feed neighbors despite pandemic

Hattie B. Stokes food service staff (clockwise from left foreground) Staci Funk, Pam Malone, Jennifer Rice and Candi Pratt are preparing food for Lebanon students to collect and take home.

Communities are coming together to ensure children and adults don’t go hungry during the disruption caused by CORVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.

Food pantry and other public service volunteers fear donations will wane as demand increases by those who are food insecure and unable to buy what they need at the time it happens to be available on grocery shelves. Groceries throughout the area have been running out of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, meat and dairy products.

FEEDING CHILDREN

All Boone County Schools shut down last week through March. But food distribution sites were established to feed students during their forced hiatus.

Schools that distribute food as part of the USDA Summer Feeding Program must serve meals inside an approved facility but were given a government waiver allowing bagged meals to be sent home with children. Government officials are advising against large groups congregating in close quarters.

Lebanon Community Schools served five days’ worth of breakfasts and lunches to anyone younger than 18 who wanted them Friday and Monday, and will again serve them from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 23 and March 30 at Hattie B. Stokes Elementary School.

Western Boone Community Schools provided five days’ worth of breakfasts and lunches to students at several sites on Monday.

Shalom House in Lebanon will feed those students the week of March 23, which is spring break, and classes are tentatively set to resume March 30.

Zionsville Community Schools provided five days’ worth of meals to students Friday and officials there urge anyone who needs additional assistance to call Maggie Ioannacci at 317-873-2858, ext. 11267.

FEEDING CANCER PATIENTS

The Boone County Cancer Society will purchase and deliver groceries for cancer patients in partnership with the Lebanon IGA.

Patients should call 765-336-9199 to request help.

FEEDING FAMILIES

The Boys & Girls Club will serve take-out meals for children and adults in need from 4-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through March 27 at the Lebanon unit, 403 W. Main St.

The Community Foundation of Boone County supported the beginning of the meal program, which is not funded by the Department of Education, and the club is seeking monetary and food donations to help.

A food collection box is outside of the Zionsville club at 1575 Mulberry St.

Donations are welcome at the Lebanon, Whitestown and Zionsville clubs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Whitestown club is at 5964 South 700 East.

Items sought include applesauce, fruit cups, carrot and celery sticks, apple slices, canned vegetables, hamburger and hot dog buns, hot dogs, spaghetti and sauce, ground beef, shredded cheese, and taco shells and seasoning.

Clubs also need volunteers to help distribute meals. Register online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409044CA9AB2C7-boys.

OTHER RESPONSES

The Caring Center, 1230 Ransdell Ct., Lebanon, is operating during normal hours, but clients from Boone County are given pre-bagged selections instead of being able to shop from what’s on hand.

The center is working with fewer volunteers, as per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And they’ve abbreviated their client intake procedure to limit the time clients are on site to alleviate crowding.

“We’re just trying to get everyone in and out as quickly as we can to keep everyone safe, and are disinfecting in between,” Theresa Hanners, executive director, said.

The Caring Center is providing extra family friendly foods to families with children for the time being, such as peanut butter, apple juice, cereal and crackers.

Hanners said the Caring Center gives away about 20,000 pounds of food per month to 20 to 30 families, and she’s worried the number will rise if coronavirus disrupts more families at the same time that those who normally donate may want to stay home.

She hopes that a new feature on the center’s website will encourage donations among those who don’t want to leave the house. Donors may now buy food online from Amazon or Target and have it shipped directly to the Caring Center.

“We got our first shipment today,” Hanners said Monday. “We’re doing our best to continue to serve those who are facing food insecurity and hope our community continues to give like they have been. I don’t think people realize how much food we give away in a month.”

For more information or to donate, visit the website at www.thecaringcenter.net/index.html.

Shalom House, 304 W. Green St., Lebanon, offers dine-in meals from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays, and 5 to 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month. All are welcome. For more information, visit the website at www.theshalomhouse.org/.

Love Inc.

Love In the Name of Christ, Love Inc., is taking care of those in need but is working as a call center and not accepting walk-in visitors at present.

Those seeking help should call 765-482-6144 and leave a message, and a representative will return their call and arrange to help them.

Organizers will re-evaluate safety vs. needs March 30 to determine if they will continue as a call center or reopen to walk-in traffic.

Nazarene Church food pantry

Clients normally walk in and choose the groceries they’d like but will now receive food via drive-thru service only at the Nazarene Church food pantry.

Pantry visitors are asked to pull up in front of the building and present their voucher and they will be handed a prepackaged box of food by a volunteer.

Donations may also be made via the drive-thru on the same schedule: noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 6 to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Emergency help is also available by calling the church offices. The congregation offers both spiritual assistance and assistance in corporal needs. They may be reached at 765-482-5415.

Zionsville Food Pantry

The Zionsville Food Pantry at 4775 W. 116th St., is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 2 p.m. Fridays. For more information, call 317-873-8137, ext. 1087.

To add to this list, email details to news@reporter.net.

Maria Flora writes for The Lebanon Reporter. Email her at maria.flora@reporter.net.

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