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Food Connection

McFarling Foods Helps to Feed People and Improve the Community

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Brian Brosmer

McFarling Foods has come a long way since their humble beginnings as a chicken processing plant in 1948. Now one of Indiana’s largest broadline food distributors, McFarling’s future is brighter than ever.

We are proud to be a local success story,” says Jason Acquisto, Marketing Manager with McFarling Foods.

He’s thrilled to work for a local company that truly cares about people.

“It’s a positive atmosphere,” he says. “We enjoy what we do, every day. And we’re excited for the future.”

As a distributor, the company buys food from wholesale vendors, then sells it to their local restaurant customers, who they consider partners. While national companies provide food to chain restaurants, McFarling Foods is a local company, owned and operated fully in central Indiana.

“We only work with local, independent restaurants,” Acquisto says. “That’s who we are. That’s our point of difference. That’s our passion.”

The McFarling Foods customer list includes diners, taverns, family restaurants, fine dining establishments and pubs. For instance, they partner with Caplinger’s Fresh Catch Seafood Market, Illinois Street Food Emporium, 317 Burger and 317 BBQ, Kopper Kettle Inn, Smokin’ Barrel BBQ, Oaken Barrel Brewing Company and several hundred others – all local.

An employee-owned company, the team at McFarling Foods is dedicated to taking care of their community – something that has been evident during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is our home, and our neighborhood,” Acquisto says. “We live here, work here and raise our families here. That’s what it means to be part of a community. So we wanted to step up during the pandemic.”

In the past year, McFarling Foods donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in food and  transportation resources to help food insecure families in its service area, in addition to actively participating in the USDA Farmers to Families program early in the pandemic. They also started “Food Drop Fridays”, in which they provide free lunches to local heroes.

“There are so many in our community that are doing the work of heroes, so every Friday for the past year we’ve delivered food to them from one of our local restaurant partners,” says Acquisto. McFarling Foods supplied the food, and one of their partners prepared individual lunches for community heroes ranging from medical personnel to firefighters, and from educators to police officers.

McFarling Foods has now begun “Food Drop Friday” donations for healthcare workers at local vaccination clinics.

“Who we help is evolving and changing, but we’re in it from here on out,” Acquisto says.

Look around, and you’ll see that there are always going to be heroes to thank.”

They drop off the food, thank the recipients for their service, and it’s a feel-good moment all around, as the restaurant partners get a boost and local heroes get a free lunch.

Food is an important component of mental health, and a freshly prepared hot lunch from a local restaurant can go a long way.

“They really appreciate it. It’s not just the free food,” Acquisto says. “It’s the sense of community. That’s what it’s all about.”

For Acquisto, the face-to-face drop-offs with frontline workers, emergency personnel and volunteers have been an unexpected bonus while working as a marketing professional.

“It’s provided the kind of job satisfaction that I didn’t expect when I got into the food industry,” he says.

It’s all about giving back, paying it forward, championing local restaurants and spreading positivity.

Many people in the area are in situations with unstable food expectations, and don’t necessarily know where their next meal is coming from. Food supply chains were impacted due to the pandemic, and McFarling Foods has been working with food pantries all over Central Indiana, including Mackida Loveal & Trip Outreach Center.

“We’ve partnered with this food pantry for food drops, school supply donations and even sponsored their brand new community garden,” Acquisto says.

This garden, located on Indy’s residential Eastside community, will provide fresh produce for a neighborhood that could use an injection of healthy food.

“That’s going to provide jobs for teens and at-risk youth, so that’s the kind of thing that has lasting power. It’s not just solving an immediate need, but it’s putting down roots in the community,” says Acquisto, who is pleased with the ways the

 company has been able to help the community, especially during the past year.

“We’ve provided financial support and manpower, but when it comes down to it, we have food,” Acquisto adds. “That’s what we can offer. We are happy to do it. And with our partners in the community, it has really made an impact.”

They have also partnered with Faith, Hope and Love Community, a missional drive-through food pantry based in Castleton.

During the shutdowns last spring, McFarling Foods aided their partners by offering free signage and vinyl banners to let patrons know when they were open or offering curbside service. McFarling Foods also shared creative marketing ideas with partners, like suggesting QR codes for touchless customer ordering systems.

“We like to say, ‘Anyone can sell you food. Wouldn’t you rather have a partner?’” Acquisto says. “Showing up to help our customers, our community – that’s what being a partner is all about.”

McFarling Foods’ corporate headquarters is located at 5273 Lakeview Parkway South Drive in Indianapolis. Their primary distribution center is located on Indy’s southeast side. For more information about McFarling Foods, call 800-622-9003 or visit mcfarling.com.

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