Produce available to food pantries through Gleaners partnership

By Makenna Mays
TheStatehouseFile.com

FRANKLIN – Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana made an extra delivery of apples, potatoes, onions and sweet potatoes to the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County for Giving Tuesday.

John Elliot, president and CEO of Gleaners, speaking about the relationship that Gleaners has with the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com

“We’re very pleased to kick off a new round of produce distribution in Johnson County,” said John Elliot, president and CEO of Gleaners. On Giving Tuesday, which follows the spending in stores and online of Thanksgiving weekend, people are urged to donate to their favorite charities.

Gleaners, part of Feeding America, is the state’s largest food bank as it serves a 21-county area. Interchurch is just one of the partners that distribute about 60 percent of Gleaner’s food supply. With the help of its many partners and volunteers, Interchurch serves 80-100 families six days a week.

“This is a great example of the kind of partnership and distribution model that we need to see going into the future,” Elliot said.

The Interchurch Food Pantry was formed 33 years ago by a local group who wanted to combine their resources from their churches instead of working separately.

“We have a lot of people who depend on us to stretch their limited dollars further,” said Carol Phipps, pantry manager.

Carol Phipps, manager of the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com

People line up outside of the pantry about an hour before opening, and depending on family size, they each get a number of points and are able to shop like they would at a food store. Anyone is eligible if they fall below185 percent of the federal poverty line.

Because of Gleaner’s Produce Hope Initiative, which launched in May, Interchurch and other partners of Gleaners are able to distribute produce and nutritious food options to their clients. Since their launch, they have distributed nearly four million pounds of produce.

“We are much more focused on the nutritional quality and impact of the meals,” Elliot said.

Interchurch received a grant from the Johnson County Community Foundation for $15,000 specifically for purchasing produce from Gleaners.

Phipps said that their customers really struggle to afford produce and nutritious foods. Interchurch also offers helpful tips and recipes so people can properly use the food.

Gleaners dropping off a food delivery for the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com

The amount of people they serve has more than doubled over the past three years, and Phipps said it would not have been possible without the help of Gleaners and other organizations like them.

“This is going to go far,” said Phipps.

Interchurch relies on volunteers for 100 percent of its work. They also hold food drives throughout the year, and they do accept monetary donations for anyone wishing to help.

Makenna Mays is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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