Food pantries need us now more than ever. Hamilton County, Indiana,  is one of the twenty-five wealthiest counties in the country, and our food pantries are desperate for food due to the huge increases in the number of middle-class families in need. Our largest local food pantry is providing non-perishable items to over fifty families a day, and families can only receive these food boxes once a month.

It is vitally important, especially during the current economic times, that we support the food pantries in our community. Often in rural or suburban areas, especially, the food pantries are the only social services available in the immediate community. In our suburban area, the working poor support the wealthy lifestyles of us suburbanites. The food pantries in suburban and rural areas are often overlooked. For example, here on the north-side suburbs of Indianapolis, most people, when they are contemplating giving food or donations to the hungry in “our” community only think about the large pantries and shelters in downtown Indianapolis. Many local families are struggling, and they depend on local shelters for help, which is why we need to take responsibility for the “least of these” in our own backyards.

Want to be a part of the solution in your community? Try some of these ideas:

  • Check with your food pantry to see what they are most in need of and make a list accordingly. Keep the list with you, and check out the sales on your grocery runs. Keep in mind the benefits of real food.
  • Contact your Representative and Senators. The budget debate currently happening in the House and Senate will have real and substantial impacts on the poorest people in our communities. Watch this video about several faith leaders fasting to bring awareness to the issue.
  • Start your own neighborhood or office food drive. We have a friend who emailed his subdivision and told everyone that he would be around the second Saturday of every month to pick up any food that they left on their front porch. He gives his neighbors a virtually painless way to take care of those in need in their community. I placed a box in our office break room with some information about our local food pantry and its needs, and my co-workers appreciate having a convenient way to give. A second-grader at our church convinced his teacher to have a food drive among his class members. The school principal was so inspired by the second-grader’s passion for those in need that he made it an all-school event. Get creative and find your own way to drum up awareness and support for your local food pantry!
  • I’m a little biased, but I think the best way to help feed those in need in our communities is with fresh, locally-grown food from our own gardens. So plant a row (or even just an extra pot of tomatoes on your back porch…every little bit helps!) for the hungry in your garden this year, or come join us our at the Grace Garden.