Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition Coordinates Help for Locals in Need
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
When the pandemic hit the United States last spring, questions, anxieties, and concerns increased as many families had much to figure out. How was this global health crisis going to affect them physically, psychologically and economically? For those who already suffered food insecurity in Hendricks County, worry loomed.
Thankfully, in 2006 the Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition (HCFPC) was created. Operating under the umbrella of the Hendricks County Community Foundation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the HCFPC helps to meet dietary needs of residents, and offers training and education to the affiliated food pantries by working with members and other support agencies.
The HCFPC consists of 20 food pantries, three pet food pantries and one personal hygiene pantry, from North Salem to Plainfield and Stilesville to the far east side of Avon.
According to Mindy Duckett, board member for the HCFPC, at the start of the pandemic the organization’s leaders witnessed an increase in requests. Those numbers leveled off when stimulus checks arrived, and when unemployment and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased. Services increased again when the extra benefits ended, and rent and utility moratoriums came to a halt.
“Our pantries have increased the amount of food they are distributing to each family to help fill the gaps,” says Duckett, who is also a community wellness coordinator for Purdue Extension in Hendricks County. “Even when our numbers have leveled out, the amount of food we are giving away has increased.”
The best way to support food pantries is with monetary donations so the HCFPC can make bulk purchases of needed items and distribute them to participating pantries.
“This buying power allowed us to keep pantry shelves stocked with healthy meal components even at our highest service times,” Duckett says.
Monetary donations can be made online through the Hendricks County Community Foundation.
The HCFPC staff members are grateful for food donations, nonperishable items, as well as meat and dairy, as their member pantries have cold storage to distribute meat, eggs and dairy items.
“The most requested items besides food are hygiene and household items,” Duckett says. “These cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits but are necessities. Families are so grateful to receive things like shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and paper products.”
Duckett says monetary and food donations are what keep the organization running, and she acknowledges that while many people have not been drastically affected by the pandemic, others have been severely impacted and are struggling to make ends meet each month.
“Our pantries have seen many new families who have never used a food pantry in the past,” says Duckett, noting that the organization’s leaders had to change how they distribute food in order to keep everyone safe.
For instance, they moved to outdoor drive-up distribution.
“As the weather turns colder and the evenings get dark sooner, we will have new issues to take into consideration for distribution,” Duckett adds. “Volunteers will be important to be able to continue these distribution models.”
Since the pantries are operated almost exclusively by volunteers, they are always eager for help. If you’re interested in learning about volunteer opportunities, contact the coalition by visiting their website or reach out to a pantry in your community.
For more information about the Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition, or to donate to the Community Foundation, visit hendrickscountyfoodpantries.com.
Visit the Following Pantry Sites in Avon, Brownsburg and Plainfield:
Faith Lutheran Church
5706 E. County Road 100 North
Light and Life Food Pantry
8264 E. County Road 100 South
Our Shepherd Lutheran Church
9201 E. County Road 100 North
Mary Lee Maier Community Pantry
Avon Intermediate School East Door #13
174 State Road 267
Messiah Lutheran Church
801 S. Green St.
GraceWay Fellowship Church
8446 E. County Road 700 S.
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church
1001 Concord Rd.
Plainfield Church Federation Food Pantry (St. Mark’s)
710 E. Buchanan St.