Gleaners Food Bank of Central Indiana has re-opened its doors to in-person shoppers for the first time in 18 months.
President and CEO John Elliott said the move is also a return to normalcy.
“And have those neighbors, many of you who we serve, to get back inside and shop,” Elliott said.
The pandemic shut down allowed the Gleaners to reimagine the client shopping experience. Communications Director Sarah Estell said expanded space now offers more quantity, quality and variety.
“Now we can have things like laundry detergent and lightbulbs, some cleaning supplies, toilet paper and occasional treats like Girl Scout cookies,” Estell said.
COVID-19 forced the organization to turn to a drive through, family meal box model that Gleaners will keep running on Saturdays. Elliott said the move helped increase distribution by 137 percent.
“That means we helped close some of that meal gap that’s persisted for decades,” Elliott said.
The need for assistance has also increased 67 percent since the start of the pandemic.
Sandy Horton and her husband are on a fixed income and said having the pantry open again is helpful.
“I like the indoor shopping,” Horton said, “that way I don’t take something I know I’m not going to use and leave it for someone else.”
A home delivery program developed during the pandemic will also continue on a limited basis.
Gleaners said volunteers are still greatly needed at the organization.