By MARC HALL
Power Team Feature
This month’s column is about volunteering. Feeding Team is a 100% voluntary organization with no paid employees. Our expenses are funded by personal and corporate donations as well as our annual fundraiser, the Feeding Team Festival, which this year will take place on the afternoon of October 1 at Federal Hill Commons in Noblesville.
Regularly, food is donated by individuals, families, churches, businesses and other civic-minded groups. Small amounts of food are given directly from any pantry. Larger amounts are received by appointment at our office. What happens every week is a full circle of service where neighbors helping each other is the reality.
As a family, we have been doing charitable food service for over 16 years – in downtown Indianapolis with Shepherd Community Center – before starting Feeding Team a few years ago. Over the years, we have seen firsthand the difference volunteers make in the lives of many people, including themselves.
This weekend is our annual Food Team Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. This is the only time a year that as an organization we can say thank you to nearly 100 people who volunteer in some capacity to provide no questions asked meals to families who might otherwise go without. . Feeding Team volunteers invest approximately 7,000 volunteer hours each year.
This column is to recognize volunteerism which is the driving force behind feeding hungry neighbors. While it is appropriate to name each name in type 36 bold, most prefer to remain anonymous, so I opt to offer readers a glimpse of what our volunteers do.
Volunteers collect, distribute, sort and stack nearly 8,000 non-perishable meals each month. Volunteers pick up and deliver food to 44 pantries. Volunteers deliver, sort, clean, repair and maintain pantries. Volunteers handle food in a way that prohibits it being returned for cash. Volunteers manage the website, email accounts, technology, vehicles, trailers, food storage, insurance, scheduling, inventory, donation relationships, food purchase relationships, banking, 501(c)(3) compliance, locate requests, questions, partner requests and media requests. Yes, that’s a lot, and we’re grateful that as we’ve grown, neighbors continue to join the team to serve.
Without the dedicated efforts of so many Feeding Team volunteers, donors and friends, this wouldn’t be happening across Hamilton County every week.
With over 27,000 neighbors struggling with food issues in Hamilton County, FeedingTeam.org provides free outdoor food pantry 24/7/365 no questions asked countywide.
The neighbors ask, “Why do that? What’s in it for you? The answer is always the same: Serving people feeds my soul. It’s a calling, not a job.
When criticized or questioned, I encourage people to learn my story before assuming anything. There were suppers when we as a young couple with young children could only afford Dinty Moore beef stew and a potato for dinner. Surreal moment. That’s why pantries exist. As a typical young family, we couldn’t always make ends meet.
Thanks for embracing pantries. We enjoy serving with so many neighbors across Hamilton County.
In the next columns, we’ll share more stories from neighbors of how your generosity served them in times of need. Rest assured that the face of hunger in Hamilton County is not what you think.
In concrete terms, this simple way of helping neighbors has a real impact on lives, families and our communities. Thank you. A few meals can change the course of a person’s life. A can of green beans means so much more when you have nothing to feed your kids. Would you like to get involved? We are in the process of evaluating our next pantry locations. If you think you have a potential location, please contact us.
Mark and Lisa Hall are the founders of Feeding Team. They can be attached to [email protected] and [email protected] or by calling (317) 832-1104.