By Ashleigh Swan
Feeding Families Hamilton County has opened its first food pantry in Carmel at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church at 10655 Haverstick Rd.
The pantry, which is at the 106th Street entrance to the church, provides free items for families in need of basic necessities.
“We are excited to have an opportunity to provide for folks in and around Carmel,” said Greg Fleckenstein, director of evangelization at Seton.
Feeding Families launched in Hamilton County in 2019 when business owners Mark and Lisa Hall felt compelled to assist community members in need.
After evaluating a pre-COVID American Community Survey, the Halls found that 27,000 people in Hamilton County struggle to find meals.
“People don’t think that the face of hunger in Hamilton County looks like me or you,” Mark Hall said. “So, we started looking for ideas, and one of those ideas came from the Nazarene Church in Louisville, Ky., who have 40 of these outdoor free food pantries.”
After evaluating the Nazarene model, the only thing that the Halls changed was adding a budget.
“We go out and take a piece of every sale of our business and will buy groceries for the pantries,” Mark Hall said.
The Halls now have a team of 14 families to help organize and fill pantries. Tasks includes removing expired products, marking out UPC codes so people can’t take them back for cash and also removing torn products.
The pantries are built by IVY Tech students and then painted and installed by Gaylor Electric. Each pantry is filled with 500 meals when launched.
“We are not looking for homeless people,” Mark Hall said. “We are targeting people who are skipped over.”
Members of the community can donate nonperishable items to the pantries.
“Folks can drive up and contribute and folks can drive up and take what they need,” Fleckenstein said.
Items can include nonperishable food and beverages as well as items such as dog food and diapers.
All pantries are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more, visit feedingteam.org.