by Tim Kean
Our Summer Matching Gift Challenge is back again this year. We kicked off the event July 1st and it will run until August 31st. Our goal this year is $100,000. Four companies, Nestle, Vectren, Citizens State Bank and American Electric Power have committed a combined total of $100,000 for the public match opportunity. This is our 3rd year for this great effort. The first year, 2018, was to celebrate our 35th anniversary and raise $35,000, it raised over $50,000. Last year, 2019, the match goal was $70,000, it raised over $74,000. Many community members have expressed excitement to see their gifts have double the impact for struggling families. We have published some cards and letters on our website and Facebook page to pass on the positive feedback being expressed. Gifts can be made online at curehunger.org or through the mail at Second Harvest Food Bank 6621 N. Old State Rd. 3 Muncie, IN 47303 for those who want to write a check.
This match opportunity has some significance this year that the other years did not have. It’s really no secret that, due to the pandemic, we have increased our food distribution output this year to twice what it was last year. Our Tailgate Distribution is carrying the lion’s share of this massive undertaking. Last year we were scheduling 9 of these food distributions a month, this year in June it was 37 and we are currently at 38 for July. The crowds of cars in some locations have put logistical pressure on the venue that has required additional outstanding support from local Emergency Management and law enforcement for traffic control. We are serving families at record numbers. Routinely, in Muncie we will serve over 4,000 people, in Anderson over 3,300, Elwood, Winchester, Wabash, Hartford City and New Castle over 1,600, with Marion and Portland over 2,300. We have been reaching multiple communities in Madison County that combined will average over 5,000 people. We are seeing the numbers of people rising not diminishing.
We will be saying a heartfelt good-bye to the wonderful team of 25 – 30 Indiana National Guard who have been with us each day since early April. This outstanding group have enabled us to grow as we have had the need. Through their efforts, we have been getting food pre-packed in our warehouse, ready to deliver to partner agencies that have been using primarily a drive-through format to serve families for almost 4 months. The National Guard has also been on the front-line distributing food at all the Tailgate sites every day. Their team, goal-oriented approach and outstanding execution has been the backbone and probably our only solution to get the job done at these high levels. They will be greatly missed!
Moving forward, we are reaching out in all counties to secure commitments with a stable group of local volunteers for the Tailgates to be able to continue at the current weekly schedule. We have several conversations going at the same time and would like to finalize this over the next 10 days. We are also planning to re-gage with volunteer groups at our warehouse location early in August. We can provide the necessary precautions for groups to work inside with safety protocols in place. The next 30-45 days will be a big transition for us once again.
Tim Kean is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana.